How many films have shown umbilical cords?

An e-pal objected to the part in my review of The Nativity Story where I wrote:

For all the talk of “realism” and “authenticity” that has surrounded this film, it is still very much a family-friendly Christmas pageant, a Christmas crèche brought to theatrical life. While Mary does experience labor pains, the birth of Jesus is remarkably clean, with no placenta or umbilical cord in sight.

To this, my e-pal replied:

Can you think of any movie that showed the placenta or umbilical cord in a birth scene?

To which I replied that, as a matter of fact, I can. In fact, two such movies are opening in North America this month — and both of them have, shall we say, indirect ties to The Nativity Story (one due to what you might call its more allegorical elements, the other because it, like The Nativity Story, is a follow-up of sorts to a certain other movie — and don’t click on those hyperlinks if you would rather not know the identity of the films in question).

It’s an interesting question, though: How many other films have shown the placenta or the umbilical cord, or have at least allowed for the existence of such things out-of-frame (as indicated by the movements of the midwife’s arms, or some such thing)? As one who had to cut two umbilical cords myself earlier this year, I am now a little more alert to this sort of detail than I used to be.

DEC 5 UPDATE: Almost forgot a third film that is opening in North America this month, in which the cord is prominently shown.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • Thom

    As did David Cronenberg’s the Brood.

  • Christian


  • Victor

    Stan Brakhage’s WINDOW WATER BABY MOVING … which was my first view of a post-birth placenta. God willing, my last.