How to Live Forever is a documentary that poses its titular question in many forms and seeks answers all over the world. Many of those questioned are people who've lived very long lives, including Edna Parker, who was 115-years-old at the time of her interview, and Buster Martin, a surly 101-year-old smoker, drinker and marathoner. The questions posed are more textured than just ‘what does it take to live forever?' (though that question is more easily answered than you might expect); they go to the deeper issues relating to "aging" as opposed to "longevity," two topics often confused for each other. Quality of life is also explored. In a society (if not a world) where both aging and longevity are becoming all the more relevant, this film may strike a cord with a certain segment of the populace. This is not a segment that goes to first run theaters during primetime, but they may catch an early matinee before the blue plate special.
Documentarian Mark Wexler (whose father is the Oscar winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler) found himself interested in these questions upon the death of his mother at the age of 85. Her death accompanied his 50th birthday, and he was feeling his age. It isn't hard to imagine how two such dramatic events might focus one's attention on ones own death and/or encroaching decrepitude. To wit, much of the film is taken up with Wexler's musings about his own mortality and physical, shall we say, decomposition. He appears in the film, poses questions to everyone from Jack LaLanne to futurist Ray Kurzweil, and scientists and physicians on the cutting edge of the science and philosophy of aging. He also undertakes the prescriptions of many of the theorists he encounters from Japan to Iceland; including laughter therapy, calorie restriction, the Okinawa diet, drinking of wine, alcohol restriction, not smoking, smoking often, working out, not working out, thinking, dancing, juicing, etc, etc. All of which seems highly successful...for the octogenarians supporting the habits.
Still, when asked, "If you could take a pill that would allow you to live for 500 years, would you?" Only about half of the respondents said yes. The older they were, the more likely the answer would be "No." Most were more concerned with living really well, right here, right now.
Edna Parker died in 2008 at the age of 116.
Distributor: Variance Films
Director/Producer: Mark Wexler
Running Time: 94 min.
Release date: May 13 NY, May 20 LA, June 3 Exp.