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The Divided Brain

Explores Iain McGilchrist's pioneering exploration of the differences between the brain's right and left hemispheres and their effects on society, history, and culture.

A printer-friendly version of this page 78 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Manfred Becker
Produced by Vanessa Dylyn
Executve Producers: Vanessa Dylyn, Niki Barbery Bleyleben, Kirkland Newman Smulders
Writers: Stephen Milton, Vanessa Dylyn
Director of Photography: John M. Tran
Editors: Dave Kazala, Eamonn O'Connor, Edwin Janzen, Regan Latimer
Original Score: Alex Khaskin
Digital Media Producer: Cathleen MacDonald
Narrator: Seana McKenna

"[V]ery powerful...It conveys...the immeasurable dangers of the colonization of the brain by the left-brain hemisphere." Sunil Kumar, PhD, former dean, LSE
[Note: Community screenings of The Divided Brain can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]

THE DIVIDED BRAIN is a mind-altering odyssey about one man's quest to prove a growing imbalance in our brains, and to help us understand how this makes us increasingly unable to grapple with critical economic, environmental and social issues; ones that shape our very future as a species.

THE DIVIDED BRAIN follows Dr. Iain McGilchrist on a journey of discovery as he travels to meet his champions and critics and defends his vision on the implications of his theory. Dr. McGilchrist is a prominent British psychiatrist and neuroscientist who may have uncovered an insidious problem with the way our brains function. He has been compared to Freud and Darwin. He believes that one half of our brain—the left hemisphere— is slowly taking power, and that we in the Western world are simultaneously feeding its ambitions. This half of the brain is very proficient at creating technologies, procedures and systems, but it cannot understand the implications of these on the people and the world around it.

McGilchrist knows that if he is right, we may be creating the technologies and the conditions that will spell our own downfall. With the clock ticking on critical issues, he must make his case and help us all to find ways to restore balance before it's too late.

Grade Level: 8-12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2021     Copyright Date: 2018
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-63-1

"The film operates on many levels as a science documentary, a philosophical debate, a political essay, and environmental film, drawing links from each field to further the conversation about the interconnectedness of our world and our ways of thinking...The Divided Brain invites audiences to dive deeper into the ideas proposed by these conversations. It encourages us to expand our ways of thinking to save the planet, and there's no doubt that's the first step we collectively need to take."
Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

"One of the most powerful and thought-provoking films on the subject... And now, with the world gripped by a mysterious virus that literally came out of nowhere, this documentary allows one to question if the right decisions and proper actions are now in place to deal with the post-COVID-19 world of tomorrow."
Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

"An inordinate number of people will revive, thrive and flourish as a result of this film."
Dr. Miranda Banks, Author, Fitter, Faster, Stronger, Smarter

"Dr. Iain McGilchrist is one of the most profound thinkers alive, not only on the brain, but on art, philosophy and the human condition, and this fascinating film, so much deeper than almost all films on the brain, is a fabulous entry point to this most poetic and soulful man's thoughts...You can't help but be changed and broadened by encountering these revelations, and you can't help but understand yourself, and the world around you, better for having watched it."
Dr. Norman Doidge, Author, The Brain's Way of Healing and The Brain That Changes Itself

"The Divided Brain is a very powerful documentary that has not shied from including critical voices. It conveys, with great clarity and conviction, the immeasurable dangers of the colonization of the brain by the left-brain hemisphere."
Sunil Kumar, PhD, former dean, London School of Economics and Political Science

"A stunning film!"
Gerald Ashley, Visiting Fellow at Newcastle Business School, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

"Sure to spark discussion."
Maggie Knapp, School Library Journal

"McGilchrist has a remarkably imaginative, creative and learned mind. He has created a grand synthesis that spans his experiences treating neuropsychiatric patients and his encyclopedic knowledge of literature and the arts. It should be no surprise that such an original and ambitious project is vulnerable to criticism. Nonetheless, McGilchrist's central claim - that we urgently need to rebalance our thinking - is not only broadly correct but also of tremendous social importance."
Anthony Jack, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Psychology, Neurology, Neuroscience and Organizational Behavior, Case Western Reserve University

"This provocative and evocative movie brings forward a timely and important question about how we use our brains: whether certain aspects are being driven by modern culture, and in turn driving us toward smaller and more specialized views of the world. How this question is answered may have significant consequences on how we relate to ourselves, each other and our planet."
Judson A. Brewer, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Director of Research and Innovation, Mindfulness Center, Brown University

"This documentary is a very powerful way to teach about the amazing ways our brain and our perception work. It provides insights from neuroscience pioneers, and dramatic examples of brain damage that leave one living more through the left or right hemisphere. Some of these studies covered in The Divided Brain are the very ones that left me with curiosity and awe, and inspired me to become a scientist."
Dr. Elissa Epel, Professor and Vice Chair of Psychiatry, Director of Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center, University of California - San Francisco, Co-author, The Telomere Effect

"This is an engaging and intellectually stimulating documentary exploring McGilchrists provocative, and at times, problematic ideas...The film is effective in building a case for McGilchrist's theory, using animal studies, developmental research, brain injury research, and a series of experts who eagerly testify to the problematic state of the modern world and the historical patterns of change that can be seen in cultural and social forms over time...The film functions at once as a critique of contemporary society and a serious engagement with a controversial scientific theory. Along the way, it fascinates and entertains, as it raises and even helps to illuminate many important and compelling questions, leaving the audience with much to ponder."
Rebecca Seligman, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Global Health, Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

"The Divided Brain is a universally accessible in-depth journey-backed by scientific findings of how humans process and interpret our world-into the benefits as well as the potential costs of a structuralist approach to societal development. Interestingly, the film explores how the mapping of the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres reflects not only how humans explore and manipulate the laws of nature to our benefit, but also how overdependence on empirical structuralism results in unforeseen consequences. This thought-provoking approach should leave viewers questioning the current zeitgeist, as by eschewing the gestalt in favor of immediate technological benefit we may in fact be missing the forest for the trees."
Robert Assini, PhD, Neuroscientist

Select your institution type

DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
DVD includes bonus interviews. With scene selection and SDH captions.

Excellent episode of NPR's "Hidden Brain" featuring Iain McGilchrist

Awards and Festivals
Pariscience International Science Film Festival
Oakville Festivals of Film & Art

Environmental Ethics
Indigenous Peoples
Mental Health
Physical Science
Social Psychology

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... more Reviews

"An extraordinary film that traverses science, art, nature, history, culture, music, education and humor, and thereby skillfully exemplifies its subtle, visionary, beautiful and timely message."
Dr. Jonathan Rowson, Scottish Chess Grandmaster, former Director, Social Brain Centre at the RSA

"Beautifully filmed, aesthetically pleasing and completely engrossing...Magnificent work."
Sylvie Hammerson, European Dana Alliance for the Brain

"An absolutely brilliant film!"
Camila Batmanghelidjh, CBE, Founder, Kids Company

"A remarkable piece of work...It deserves as wide an audience as possible."
Michael Driver, Chairman, Convex Capital

"A fascinating documentary which filled me with admiration for the amazingly rich and amusingly imaginative human brain."
Leslie Caron, Academy Award nominee, Gigi and An American in Paris

"So much food for thought for how we live...A great film - urge you to see it!"
Nina Jasinski, Chief Marketing Officer, Ogilvy UK

"A fascinating look at the brain and how fragile its overall chemistry truly is."
David Voigt, In the Seats

"The work of Iain McGilchrist is essential to understanding the dangerous imbalance in our thinking and culture between what he characterizes as left and right hemisphere thinking. This engaging film vividly dramatizes his important message and as such should be widely viewed in educational circles that aspire to a more humane future."
David Lorimer, Program Director, Scientific and Medical Network, Author, A Quest for Wisdom, Editor, Paradigm Explorer

"Recommended...polished...informative...This would be good for any library collection to cultivate a dialogue about McGilchrist's theory."
Skye M. Limón, Texas AandM University-Kingsville, Educational Media Reviews Online

"Provocative...To further test his theory, [McGilchrist] looks at history, the animal kingdom, early childhood development, and other cultures and is convinced Western society is over-emphasizing the left hemisphere in education, work, finance, and government. With a fascinating look at the brain and its implications for mankind, this film is recommended."
Trudie Root, Video Librarian

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