I watched Genesis 2.0, which is debuting in Italy almost two years after its release at the Sundance Film Festival. In the meanwhile, Semyon Grigoriyev has died. The Russian paleontologist leading the effort to clone a mammoth was one of the movie’s main characters. He always had little chance of success, and the plan’s odds are now worse than ever.
The alternative project at Harvard aims to resurrect the mammoth genes by editing them into the elephant genome. However, very little news has been released after the headlines in 2017. George Church indeed is credited with turning science fiction into science. Still, the issue here is not just genetics; it is about producing embryos and constructing an artificial uterus to gestate them.
To be honest, de-extinction, CRISPR, cloning, synthetic biology, etc. are hardly the movie’s primary focus. However Genesis 2.0 is worth watching for a completely different reason: ethnography. It shows Yakut hunters’ harsh life as they search the New Siberian Islands for mammoth tusks to sell. The images are breath-taking, and the tale is heart-breaking.