If you could take a pill that would let you live 500 more years, would you? That’s one of the many questions director and star Mark Wexler asks in his latest documentary, How To Live Forever. A personal exploration of aging philosophy and anti-aging technology, the film lets us meet longevity gurus, research scientists, and plenty of celebrities like Suzanne Summers, Ray Bradbury, and Jack LaLanne. Yet the real stars of the show are the centenarians, the truly aged among us who show us the reality of what it means to live longer than anyone else. How To Live Forever is a documentary you don’t want to miss, and you don’t have to! Its national tour is bringing it through a city near you, and I’ll be watching the film in San Francisco this Friday July 8th at 7pm at the Opera Plaza Cinema! Mark Wexler and special guest Aubrey de Grey, the wizard of anti-aging science, will be answering questions after the screening. It’s going to be awesome! I can’t wait to see you there.
When I first reviewed the trailer for this film I was able to speak to Mark Wexler briefly. Well, since then I’ve seen the entire movie and had a much longer conversation with Wexler about his work. I was thrilled with how complete How To Live Forever feels. For technophiles like myself, there’s plenty of discussion on the science and possibilities surrounding anti-aging techniques that may emerge in the next few decades. But there was something for everybody else too. Wexler does an excellent job of talking to everyone who has a stake in the aging racket. Funeral homes, scientists, celebrity spokespeople, doctors, health nuts, philosophers – Wexler meets them all and tries to suss out what each can teach us about getting old.
Apologies for showing this again, but here’s a great clip of Aubrey de Grey’s appearance in the movie. Polling a boat and drinking a pint – what a rock star.
A similarly minded Dr. Katz (this bonus clip should be available on the DVD):
Of course, the best lessons come from the centenarians, which Wexler describes as “very ‘the glass is half full’ kind of people…that aren’t too concerned with the opinions of others.” My absolute favorite of these is Buster, a 101 British mechanic who works, drinks, smokes, and flips people the finger as much as possible. He really steals the show.
But since I’ve shown Buster before, here’s Emma Jackson, another lively centenarian. The following bonus clip should be available on the How To Live Forever DVD (coming later this year).
I don’t want to give away too much of the movie itself, because there are some wonderfully funny and insightful moments that really moved me when I first saw them. (It’s hard to describe the squeamish fun that comes from listening to philosophy from a senior citizen Japanese porn star, or the strange fascination that comes from considering laughter as a healing act). I will say that the documentary is framed around Wexler’s personal journey in the face of his own aging and the recent death of his mother. While that journey is important, however, it really is just the entry point to the discussion. There are so many different points of view, debates, and bizarre approaches to aging that Wexler’s journey is supplanted by our own exploration as we are exposed to all the different philosophies in the film.
In short, How To Live Forever is a great film to begin your own discovery into longevity. With opinions from all over the spectrum, but still plenty of appearances by Ray Kurzweil, Aubrey de Grey and other tech-minded experts, it’s a wonderful way to start a conversation with friends who have never considered the possibilities of truly living forever. And there are a lot of those people out there. As Mark Wexler told me, only about 50% of the people they polled would take the pill that let them live for 500 more years. As a society we seem to be split on whether we should consider longevity a dream or an obtainable goal. Which should make things really interesting if we end up achieving that goal before most of us are ever sure we want it.
In the meantime, please come and watch How To Live Forever with me on Friday. Aubrey de Grey will be there to answer questions about his work and take on longevity, and he never fails to excite (or incite) a crowd. If you can’t make it at 7pm, the film will be screening at various times over the weekend at the Opera Plaza Cinema. On Saturday at 7pm, Dr. Ken Dychtwald, aging guru and gerontologist giving his own Q&A after the film. For all you readers who don’t live in the Bay Area, make sure to check the How To Live Forever website to see when the film will be coming to you. Or you can catch it on DVD, Video on Demand, etc as those options appear later in the year. Just don’t miss the movie, it’s a once in a (hopefully very long) lifetime event.
[image and video credits: Wexler’s World Inc]
[source: How To Live Forever]