How To Live Forever
A Movie By Director Mark Wexler
A Must See at The Hamptons International Film Festival 2009
Movie Review and Interview
Marge Jetton
Dr. EllsworthWareham 94
If you were given a pill that would give you 500 more years to live, would you take it? Would you want it? This question was asked to several people in the movie “How To Live Forever” by director Mark Wexler. This question really makes you contemplate your life, your accomplishments, your mortality. As I watched the movie, I found myself reflecting on many facets of my life as well as the lives of humans in general. The search for how to live forever or at least as long as we can, was done in a fun and interesting way as Wexler takes us to places all over the world where we meet all kinds of people and are introduced to many factors of why people are living longer.

One major impact is our general belief system and its affect on our health. There are findings all over that whether you have a negative or positive outlook on life does have an impact on your health. Positive people generally live longer than those with a negative attitude. There’s a segment that shows the Ms. Senior America Pageant and every woman that entered it had a positive attitude and a lot of them didn’t look like they were in their sixties at all. Years ago people thought forty meant your life would soon come to end. Nowadays forty is considered more of the middle of your life and sixty is still somewhat young. Your mental attitude is a big part of staying young. There was another segment where they were showing the people that made it into the Guiness Book of World Records and the people that lived way past 100 years of age all had generally positive attitudes and made the most of their genetic inheritance.
Biologist Aubrey de Grey stated that “age is repair and maintenance”. He compared the human body to that of a car or a machine. The body is a complicated machine but we are learning more and more every day and with rejuvenation therapies, we can see the chance for extending our lives within the next ten years. I asked Mark what he thought of this and also the fact of overpopulation. “Death in other cultures is viewed very differently than how it is viewed here”, he explained. “Our culture is youth obsessed and has a fascination with longevity” he went on to say. Some things that they are looking into are reducing our proportions per meal and calorie restrictive diets. Our society’s proportions are out of control, children are even faced with obesity problems and diabetes, and our calorie intake is through the roof. I remember as a kid that we always got balanced meals and you rarely saw anyone overweight because every one was always outside playing.

The computer age along with video games have made today’s youth sloth ridden and all of this needs to change. I work out every day and have found it something that I look forward to. I also have reduced my calorie intake and proportions so I’m speaking first hand when I tell you that there is something to this way of thinking. In fact, Mark told me that even the health insurance companies are looking to increase rates for their obese clients. I think this is a good idea because I think this would force people to get healthy. Now if everyone is healthy and fit and living longer, will we become an overpopulated nation? A good point that both Mark and Aubrey said was that it will work itself out because it always does. When the average life span went from 40 years old to 75 years old, they figured it out so in turn the same will happen as we extend the life span to 100 years old.

Cryogenics was another topic shown in the movie where people are currently having themselves frozen until the day when research can find a cure for whatever they have and bring them back. People are placed in sleeping bags and then are strapped in and stored at the facility. This really had me thinking two things. The first was that for the people that believe we all have souls and that when you die your soul leaves and goes to heaven, how could the cryogenic labs bring you back to life? Is your soul hanging out in heaven with everyone until it’s time to go back into the same old body? The second thing I thought was even for people that don’t believe that, the question still remains, how do they bring you back to life? If you’re dead, you’re dead. What if you were a coma patient? Could you take that body and freeze it until there was a cure thus leaving the soul intact? I asked Mark this question and he had a good point that the body would still die due to freezing to death. So again we are back to the same question of how do they bring you back? They still don’t have an answer for this but are working on one so for now, people are paying for this and will wait until they figure it out.

The Japanese culture has always been known for having very long lives. Mark took a look at the Okinawan’s way of life. He found that they do live longer and are healthier. They have a diet that is low calorie and nutrient rich. They have active lives through gardening, dancing, walking, daily things like this that are just part of their lifestyle no matter what their age is. They have a reason to get out of the bed in the morning and are relaxed and happy go lucky. They go at a slower pace than we do and I think that’s one thing we have gotten away from in this country. Everyone’s in such a hurry that it affects everything. The rushing itself is stressful, then you don’t have time to make something to eat so you get something on the run that is usually not healthy, then you worked so many hours you don’t have time or are too tired to exercise. The cycle continues day in and day out. No one stops to smell the roses anymore. Mark told me that he’s finding that people are seeking alternative ways to relax and are trying to slow down a bit. He’s finding that as people are getting older, they are trying to put things in perspective and slow down. I have to agree with him because as I talk with people, I’m finding the same thing. Maybe our society has found that it has come to a point where we are trying to put on the breaks before crashing. I really hope so. “The formula for longevity used to be  70 percent genes and 30 percent lifestyle”, Mark explained; “Now they’re finding that it’s 70 percent lifestyle and 30 percent genes”. Well, I’m not a scientist but this sounds about right to me.
some of the other people in the movie that are over 100. Some of the people workout every day and keep themselves busy. Is there really one formula to living forever?

I think Mark did an excellent job in showing various situations with an array of people who share their lifestyles with us in this amazing film. There was not one moment that I was bored with this film and for me that is rare. I liked the segments and the fact that everything was so different. Different cultures, different people, different ways of living. One thing I was aware of is that people realize they have this one life and they try to live it to their fullest. These people are never bored and are always evolving. Moderation seemed to be apparent and I really believe their positive attitudes played a major role.

Like many of us, Mark has often reflected on this subject but when his mother passed away, it really brought this to the forefront and the movie was made. I asked Mark what does he hope people will take away from the film? “I hope it gets them thinking and feeling” he answered. Indeed the film definitely does this. This is a must see film and will affect everyone who sees it. You will think, you will feel and you will take a look at your life in so many ways. You will also be inspired by the many people in the film. There are more segments in the film that I didn’t touch on because I want you to see this for yourself and I hope it affects you the same way it has affected me. Reflect on your life and if you aren’t living your fullest life, you certainly will after seeing this. I think people will make changes to their lives for the better and you’ll be happy you took the time to see this film.
Your health and how fit you are, inside and out, is another factor. Jack La Lanne pioneered the fitness revolution and is still going strong. In the film he says “Exercise is King and Nutrition is Queen. Put them both together and you have a kingdom”.
This is a good way of combining the two together that makes sense. Your body is your temple and the only one you have, so why wouldn’t you want to treat your body like royalty? La Lanne just turned 95 years old and isn’t stopping. I asked Mark what he thought of La Lanne and working out with him and one thing he loves is Jack’s passion for what he does. “Jack is one of a kind and really wants people to be healthy” he explains. Jack continues working out every day and I didn’t realize that he was responsible for the design of most of the gym equipment you see in the gyms today.
Jack La Lanne and Mark Wexler in the movie
My father had his first heart attack at  age 38 and was supposed to be on a program of  diet and exercise which he did but then eventually fell away from. At age 48, his second heart attack killed him. My mom had breast cancer and had a mastectomy along with preventative chemotherapy and was fine for five years. Then got lung cancer and died at 52. I was 25 years old and found myself thinking that if someone told me that I’d die at 52, what would I do with the next 27 years? I guess this question is much like the “500 year pill” question that Mark asked many people throughout the film. Well, I work out every day and before I could even do that, it took me four months to get my heart in shape to get on a workout routine. I will continue exercising the rest of my life because I will not die from a heart attack. They have also found that the fatty tissue in the abdomen
104 years old
area contributes to cancer and with breast cancer they are finding the same thing since they are made up of all fatty tissue. I’ve already made up my mind I am not dying from any kind of cancer so that’s another reason I’m exercising and eating right. In fact, I am a very positive person, even in times when I shouldn’t be and I have already “told” my body that it will not die from any disease or anything along that line. I will simply decide to check out and just go in my sleep. This is part of that positive attitude that has kept people living well beyond 100 years old.

Laughter and always moving forward are some other factors that contribute to extending your life. You’ve heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine” but I like to think that laughter is the best vitamin. I am constantly laughing and joking and surround myself with people that are the same way. Laughter yoga is something that is a new type of yoga that is becoming popular and people are finding that it’s very releasing. How could it not be? When you laugh, it brings more oxygen to the brain. One of the gentlemen in the movie stated that a sense of humor is key and also don’t hold any grudges. I agree on both accounts. I love to laugh and I don’t hold any grudges because I deal with things as they come and confront them and move on.
A 94 year old surgeon in the movie is still driving himself to the hospital every day and loves what he does. He said for him that when a chapter is done, he closes it. So here we see again that moving forward and not looking back are methods of someone who is still practicing medicine at 94 and watching this man, you can see that he is still competent to do so.
Eleanor Wasson is a woman who said that life gets better after 50 because you don’t care what people think, you’re more secure with yourself and who you are. She’s not really a believer in God or going to church (she thinks churches are too controlling) but she believes there are three laws you should obey. The first is cause and effect, second is free will and free choice and third is the law of love. I found this ironic that she didn’t really believe in God nor was she spiritual yet these three laws are things that I find highly spiritual people believe in. I think Eleanor has an innate understanding on longevity. She still has a drink and a smoke as do
Mark Wexler
Mark Wexler
Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, 94 yrs. old
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