“Do you want to live forever?”

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High Life

It’s what Valeria asks Conan time and again in Conan the Barbarian.

She, of course, doesn’t. She doesn’t want to, and she doesn’t get to.

But what would it be worth to live forever? What would it be worth to keep – or regain your youth and hold on to it forever?

Several films have explored this idea in various ways, from various perspectives. And it’s seldom good.

Nevertheless, it’s the dream that has captured the imagination of people for all time.

It comes as a fountain. Celebrity workouts, books, and elixirs.

From Lakme:

Susan Sarandon and David Bowie learn the downside of eternal life in 1983’s The Hunger. It’s one of my favorite vampire films – if a good story, excellent acting and a brilliant love scene set to the Flower Duet from Lakme were not enough, it even opens with a night club performance by Bauhaus:

Bauhaus:

Lots of cheap horror films play with unkillable demons such as Jason Vorhees or Freddie Kruger of Michael Myers. But none of these guys are really immortal in a way that’s interesting, they’re simply brought back without explanation in order to extend a franchise. There are some interesting takes on the search for immortality though. Robert Heinlein wrote a number of books exploring the lives of his very long-lived characters. The film Prometheus buried a thread of this idea within it as well, although that film is such a patchwork of unrealized ideas that it’s hard to really think about any of them coherently.

Rather than focusing on the horror or a long, empty existence (The Hunger); a long, meaningful existence (The Highlander); or stupid, mindless living (Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, et al), Death Becomes her sees eternal youth as the province of vapid, wealthy Los Angelites looking for a fountain of cosmetic surgery.

death_becomes_her_by_fraxd-d6jmmu5Yet, like The Hunger, Death Becomes Her’s fountain of youth preserves life without a guarantee of quality. So take care of your body, it has to last you a long, long time.

I wonder if this film may have done better if it didn’t hinge the story upon an adulterous relationship fueling a vengeful murder. Even though the slapstick was one of the central ways the film showcased its notion of ‘life no matter what,’ it sometimes felt like it was trying to ride the coattails of The War of the Roses’ dark humored battles.

“Do you know what they do with fat, bald, overweight republicans in prison, Ernest?”

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