The film tells the story of an archetypal human life using images taken from all around the world and the last 100 years of cinema.
The images span the microcosm (inside the body), through the individual (the first cry of a new-born baby), to the macrocosm (accumulated archive footage of ritual celebration and the carnage of war).
The editing, music, and the mythic narrative arc of the material is designed to take the viewer on a roller coaster tour of the human body and life cycle. Every possible depiction of the human life from microscopic medical to portraits and newsreels, from births to deaths, are cut to a music track by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead to create a mythic narrative of the arc of a single life.
Hollywood director Paul Thomas Anderson saw the film at its Rotterdam Festival premiere: "I remember seeing bodysong and feeling like I was in a trance. A wonderful collection of the two simple things a film has to work with: pictures and music. It's a moving, scary and hypnotic potpourri of images and an experience that gets more lucid the more you watch ...The website, which is 50% of the experience is a testament to the strong, caring research and a dedication to wonderful material."
The film was released by Pathé in 2003 with a limited collector's edition released on DVD by the BFI in 2010, which included original essays by William Gibson, Geoff Andrew, Gareth Evans and Matt Hanson.
The film won a BAFTA Interactive Award in 2004 and Best British Documentary at the British Independent Film Award in 2003.