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Friday, November 28, 2014

'The Immortalists' Theatrical Openings: They're Gonna Live Forever & Maybe Learn How to Fly

The new Structure Films documentary "The Immortalists" features two colorful "gonzo" scientists who will make you believe that greatly (if not infinitely) extending human life is feasible. This film is opening at the Cinema Village Theater in New York City on November 28, 2014 and at the the Laemmle NoHo Theater in Los Angeles two weeks later. Chances are excellent that it will hit an art house theater near the rest of us in early 2015.

The following spoiler-laden clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a promo. for "Immortalists"provides a nice introduction to the researchers around whom much of the film centers. This glimpse includes looks at the scenes in which these men describe their theories.



The rail-thin extremely long bearded practicing nudist Dr. Aubrey de Grey looks as if he just spent the summer following whichever folk rock band is filling in the gap since the breakup of the Grateful Dead decades ago but is an acclaimed scientist with a method for compensating for the aging process. He identifies his seven-step method as SENS, which stands for "Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence."

The theory of de Grey is that solutions exist for the seven causes of aging, which include cell loss and athrophy. This method largely consists of conducting necessary repairs and maintenance regarding those conditions.

Aside from arguably being a marathon addict, Dr. Bill Andrews is a much more conventional individual than de Grey. Further, the approach of Andrew to addressing aging seems more feasible than that of his colleague.

Andrews presents the analogy that small caps at the end of chromosomes are like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces; he goes on to note that, just as shoelaces tear apart as the tip at the end deteriorates, chromosomes lose their cohesiveness in a manner that causes aging as the aforementioned cap on their tips break down. His approach simply is to prevent that process.

Much of the film focuses on the personal lives of de Grey and Andrews; these "intimate portraits" are entertaining and provide insight regarding these scientists choosing aging as their field of study.

A particularly amusing segment has the men of science simultaneously undergoing tests that measure the degree to which each of them has aged; the friendly competition regarding this further adds to the highly human element in this film about scientific research.

The presumption that folks who do not wish to outlive their parrots or their tortoises will have the option of opting out of utilizing anti-aging treatment addresses that ethical issue regarding the work of the subjects of the film and their colleagues; the "who knows" attitude that de Grey expresses regarding the impact of the increased population that will result from large numbers of people extending their lives is surprising and distressing. It is as if he simply wants to unleash the results of his work on the world and leave the rest of us to deal with the highly likely negative consequences of that success.

On a broader level, "Immortalists" takes a fascinating look at a subject that affects every person who ages. It further provides folks who long to live long enough to visit the moon a chance to achieve that goal.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Immortalists" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.