The Botany of Desire

Watch The Botany of Desire

  • TV-14
  • 2009
  • 2 hr
  • 7.6  (604)

The Botany of Desire is a 2009 documentary film based on the book of the same name by Michael Pollan. The film explores the intricate relationship between humans and the plants they cultivate, specifically four plants: apples, tulips, cannabis, and potatoes. Narrated by Frances McDormand, the film takes a unique approach to the traditional nature documentary format. Rather than merely examining the plants in question, the film explores how our desires have shaped these plants over time and how, in turn, these plants have shaped human desires.

The first section of the film examines the apple and its role in American history and mythology. Pollan notes that the apple is not native to America, but was brought over from Europe by colonists. Despite this, the apple quickly became enmeshed in American culture and came to symbolize everything from patriotism to sin. Pollan argues that the apple's success is due in part to its ability to appeal to human desire - for sweetness, for intoxication, and for adventure.

The second section of the film looks at the tulip, the most coveted flower in 17th century Holland. Pollan explores how tulips became a symbol of wealth and status, and how the tulip market eventually collapsed due to speculation and greed. He argues that the tulip's allure lies in its ability to appeal to our desire for beauty and uniqueness.

The third section of the film focuses on cannabis, a plant that has been both revered and reviled throughout human history. Pollan explores the cultural and legal shifts in attitudes towards cannabis, from its use in ancient societies to its demonization by 20th century politicians. He argues that cannabis has remained popular in spite of its illegality because it satisfies our desire for altered states of consciousness and relaxation.

The final section of the film examines the potato, a relatively recent arrival in the human diet. Pollan notes that the potato has played a key role in world history, from fueling the Industrial Revolution to feeding populations during times of war and famine. He argues that the potato's popularity can be traced to its ability to appeal to our desire for security and sustenance.

Throughout the film, Pollan weaves together historical anecdotes, scientific research, and personal reflections to make a compelling case for the idea that plants have coevolved with humans to satisfy our deepest desires. He argues that our relationship with plants is not one-sided, but rather a mutually beneficial dynamic that has shaped both our biology and our culture.

Overall, The Botany of Desire is a thought-provoking and visually stunning exploration of the ways in which humans have shaped the natural world and been shaped by it in turn. It raises important questions about the morality of manipulating and domesticating other species, while highlighting the beauty and complexity of the natural world.

The Botany of Desire is a 2009 documentary with a runtime of 2 hours. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6.

The Botany of Desire
Where to Watch The Botany of Desire
The Botany of Desire is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent The Botany of Desire for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (604)