Thursday, 2009 April 9, 11:12 — cinema, luddites

deathist movie

In Renaissance (2006) there’s a Big Sinister Corporation whose advertising tagline is “Health, Beauty, Longevity.” Oo, scary! I don’t think we’re ever told what Avalon sells (vitamins? cosmetics? medical treatment?) but it doesn’t matter. The noirish visual style suffices to notify us that there are no white hats.

Some years back Avalon’s top scientist Jonas Muller, who had been studying progeria, dropped out to run a charity clinic. Now another promising scientist, Ilona Tasuiev, has vanished.

Eventually we learn that Muller dropped out because he found the secret of immortality; to let Avalon bring it to market would be a Really Bad Thing. Muller has kidnapped Tasuiev because she found the same secret and does not share his fear of it.

I kept expecting someone to reveal that the Muller Protocol involves sacrificing children, but no: immortality is bad because “without death, life has no meaning,” a truth which the writers hold to be self-evident. So in the end Karas, the detective assigned to find Tasuiev, shoots her in the back to save humanity’s soul; and tells her sister that she needed to disappear for her own safety, but don’t worry, she’ll be fine.

Oddly enough the movie does suggest a better reason to think immortality isn’t all good. Muller’s progeria subjects included his own brother, who apparently is now immortal but mentally damaged – though he doesn’t get enough attention to make this clear.

The movie is animated in (mostly) one-bit monochrome. This gimmick is occasionally used very well, as when Tasuiev finds herself in a surreal arboretum; but the show is long enough to use up its novelty. I found myself wondering whether the characters see their world as we do.

. . . In recent years I’ve read a fair amount of fiction (e.g. by Greg Egan) in which the abolition of senescence is treated as an unremarkable feature of the background. Is there anything like that in visual media?

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