The Long Alchemy of Being

A short film by James Elser and Samantha Davis

Poem by James Elser; Music by Antonio Trillo & Manolo Maass

This short film brings together original poetry, music, and cinematography to tell the story of the universe as seen at the intersection of the past and the future. The story unfolds at a cluster of unique and diverse aquatic ecosystems in Cuatro Ciénegas, Mexico, an Elser lab research site since 1998.

Narrated in English by noted ASU cosmologist Dr. Paul Davies and in Spanish by renowned UNAM microbiologist Dr Valeria Souza, the film's scientifically rigorous yet poetic sweep encompasses the Big Bang, the origins of chemical elements, the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, the ongoing mega-extinction at the dawn of the Anthropocene, and the deep future of the universe. The making of this film was supported by the US National Science Foundation (DEB-0950175). Many thanks especially to Samantha Lloyd, Sandra Leander, Peggy Coulombe, Jorge Ramos, Josh Burton, Yunuen Tapia Torres, Jenni Learned, and Valeria Souza for their contributions to this production.

Below are various versions of the film, in English & Spanish and with & without subtitles. The versions without subtitles are recommended for those who are not deaf or hard of hearing, although the subtitles do help in following the poem. The text of the poem can be found here

English version (with narration, no subtitles) (recommended)

Spanish version (with narration, no subtitles) (recommended)

English version (with narration and subtitles)

Spanish version (with narration and subtitles)

English version (subtitles only)

Spanish version (subtitles only)

Movie premiere (includes panel discussion hosted by Paul Davies) " The Long Alchemy of Becoming " Film Premiere & Discussion from Arizona State University on Vimeo.



NSF Ecosystem Studies program