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The Immortalists explores what it means to live forever

By Connor Sadler, September 27 2014 —

The quest for eternal youth appears in almost every culture, from Spanish explorers searching for mythical fountains to apples handed down by Norse Gods. This quest is central to the work of scientists Bill Andrews and Aubrey de Grey, the subject of The Immortalists.


The documentary, co-directed by David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg, explores what it would mean to live forever, or to at least significantly increase the human life span. The film follows the work of Andrews, a clean-cut researcher and long distance runner, and de Grey, an unconventional scientist who sports a two-foot long beard and often works with a beer in hand.


With two people this different, there are bumps along the way. Andrews and de Grey occasionally disagree but are working together for their common goal “to live forever or die trying.”


While the documentary is grounded in science, it focuses more on the relationships between people and how added longevity could change how we interact.


People are living longer and longer. What are people’s relationships going to be like if that trend continues?” Alvarado says. “What if everyone successfully lives to be healthy until they’re 120 and that’s where the real drop-off starts to happen? If you get married when you’re 22, are you really going to be married to someone for 100 years?”


While thought provoking, the documentary provides more questions than answers.


Part of the message is that science can change everything,” Alvarado says. “We need to be willing to be science literate to be both skeptical and encouraging of things that are on the horizon.”The Immortalists plays at the Globe Cinema on Sunday, Sept. 28 at 7:00 p.m. as part of the Calgary International Film Festival.

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