Two eccentric scientists struggle to create eternal youth in a world they call “blind to the tragedy of old age.” As they battle their own aging and suffer the losses of loved ones, their scientific journeys ultimately become personal.
At some point in our lives, I think we’ve all wondered what it would be like to be immortal. I know that there are people out there who are fascinated with vampirism and some are even convinced that they are creatures of the night and while that is another story altogether, the thought of living forever is one that both intrigues and captivates. Think about it, if you could stay at the age and physical condition you are in right now and had the opportunity to be that way forever, or at least, for a few millennium, would you want to? Naturally, I think one would have no problem in doing so as long as their family and friends could go with them, at least you’d have company but would you want to do it alone? Even for a few hundred years to see what achievements and accomplishments mankind could attain?
In “The Immortalists”, a Molecular Biologist, Bill Andrews, who lives in Reno, Nevada and Aubrey de Grey, a crusader for the quest to defeat aging, who lives in the U.K., are both determined to achieve this realization and reverse the aging process in humans altogether. Bill’s dad Ralph, suffers from Alzheimer’s and is deteriorating rapidly and Bill has made it his mission in life to try and obtain the necessary information and the principal element that will put an end to aging, once and for all. Bill’s company, Sierra Sciences, has screened over 300,000 different chemicals with plans to test another three million but with investors getting antsy because of a lack of return on their investment and his company on the verge of bankruptcy, Bill must also try to raise over $40 million needed to keep his company afloat.
Aubrey on the other hand, has developed a 7-step plan to cure aging called SENS, a concept that utilizes regenerative medicine which in part, introduces enzymes from other species into the human body that will break down and destroy the substances which cause our bodies to degenerate and which we are physically incapable of regenerating by ourselves. He is invited to Oxford University to debate ‘Defeating Aging’ and tries to convince the auditorium which is full of scientific analysts, physicists and researchers, that the time is now, to try and make that necessary breakthrough or else we’ll end up paying for it down the line. He makes a good argument although his opponent, Dr. Colin Blakemore, one of Britain’s leading scientists, argues that even if we could prolong a person’s life, it could have even more severe consequences down the road when the human body would naturally catch up with its age.
One interesting aspect I did find was that in 2011, a research lab in Harvard was successfully able to reverse aging in mice so if they can achieve the desired effect in animals, what’s to say that they can’t reverse the effects of aging in humans? It’s a subject matter that, to be perfectly honest, I’ve never seriously thought about. We all know that everybody, eventually, dies. We all accept it because it is simply the way things are. We have all known someone who has died and it’s only a matter of time before we too go. There are movies and TV shows that deal with immortals and people who don’t age and we go along with the story because it’s fiction but why are we so quick to dismiss it in real life when most of us know nothing about it? Fear of the unknown maybe but this film implores you to open your mind to the possibilities of immortality and once you put the “impossible” and “unbelievable” notions out of your mind, you’d be surprised at just how close we really are to realizing it.
In select theaters November 28th
For more info about James visit his website at www.irishfilmcritic.com