ETERNITY AT LAST

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by Stephan Bergmann

grade: 7

Eternity at last is a journey into the future, into science, into science fiction. But it is also a highly poetic documentary. At the Diagonale 2021.

Science or science fiction?

Writer Frédéric Beigbeder had the opportunity to discuss a rather sensitive topic with his four-year-old daughter: death. Not having the courage to explain to her how things really are, Beigbeder told her that science has now made a lot of progress and human beings are now immortal. A soothing story for a child, no doubt. And yet, there are those who really do try hard to achieve a kind of ‘immortality’. Or, at any rate, to prolong their lives as much as possible. The documentary Eternity at Last, directed by Stephan Bergmann and premiered at the Diagonale 2021, tells us about them, as well as their research, experiments and lifestyles.

Liz Parrish, CEO of BioViva, is convinced that being old almost means being sick and therefore tries to ‘stop’ her ageing through a series of injections. The woman is almost fifty but looks about thirty. Lincoln Cannon takes a series of food supplements every day in order to achieve ‘the best version of himself’. Together with them, numerous followers of so-called ‘transhumanism’ are even prepared to hibernate in order to be able to wake up in many, many years. Will it be possible, then, to one day achieve the longed-for immortality? Some scientists would be ready to give an affirmative answer.

And yet, at the same time, the filmmaker does not want to give any definitive answers about this, but simply shows us a series of realities and numerous testimonies in order to lead us by the hand into a world, into many worlds of which we had hardly heard until now. Eternity at last is a journey into the future, into science, into science fiction. But it is also a highly poetic documentary. A walk by the sea. Sea and sky meet, but we cannot really tell when one begins and the other ends. All the shades of blue break free on the screen and convey a strong sense of tranquillity. A man walks on the beach. Are we really all destined to die or can science and progress do something about it? In Eternity at Last science, philosophy and even religion come together and give rise to a discourse that is much more complex and layered than it might initially seem.

The director’s camera simultaneously acts as confidant and silent observer and simply lets the protagonists speak. Throughout the documentary, a strongly calm and contemplative mood reigns. And an overall simple and straightforward mise-en-scene proves to be the best solution. Stephan Bergmann has identified a very burning but undoubtedly fascinating topic and in telling it to us on the big screen has found the best solution. We don’t know if we will really be immortal tomorrow, but certainly after watching Eternity at Last we could continue to discuss this topic for a long, long time.

Original title: Endlich unendlich
Directed by: Stephan Bergmann
Country/year: Austria, Germany / 2021
Running time: 92’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Stephan Bergmann
Cinematography: Janis Mazuch
Produced by: Navigator Film, Made in Germany Filmproduktion, ZDF

Info: the page of Eternity at Last on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Eternity at Last on the website of Navigator Film