Movies for Readers: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”

Almost from the moment in early 2010 that The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was first published, it was difficult for readers to avoid seeing it everywhere they looked. Go into a bookstore; read a handful of book blogs; turn on NPR, C-Span, or one or two SiriusXM stations that talk about books; read one of the periodicals that have “Book Review” in their name; or tune in to an internet book podcast, and you were very likely to encounter something about Rebecca Skloot’s book about the woman who saved so many thousands of lives after her death.

Not all of Henrietta Lacks, you see, died, because unbeknownst to Henrietta or her family, some of her cells were taken from her in 1951 and used in medical research for decades to come – research that led to advances in numerous areas of scientific research, including that of the polio vaccine.

A new film (of the same title) that debuts on HBO on April 22 is perfect for those of us who may have picked up the book half-a-dozen times without ever bringing it home or who didn’t read it even if we did bring it home. Despite my curiosity exactly as to how all this was allowed to happen as it did, and whether the woman’s family ever succeeded in calling those responsible into account, I find myself in that second group. And that means I’ll very likely be watching the film at some point in its life cycle.

Official HBO Movie Trailer:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks stars Oprah Winfrey (who also produced the film), Rosa Byrne, Leslie Uggams, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Reg E. Cathey, Courtney B. Vance, and Renée Elise Goldsberry. The movie was filmed in Atlanta and Baltimore.

Rosa Byrne and Oprah Winfrey

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