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Who Wants To Live Forever / Live-Action Films

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  • In the 1940s German adaptation of Münchhausen, the storyteller of the framing narrative is revealed to be the baron, who loves his present wife of fifty years so deeply that he decides to relinquish his immortality to die with her, aging to her exact age before his guests' eyes.
  • This is the premise of Ryuuhei Kitamura's film Aragami, with the titular immortal war god having grown tired of his eternal life and seeking to meet the one who will kill him in battle. It wouldn't be that difficult if he wasn't Miyamoto Musashi
  • In Bicentennial Man, the robot Andrew, (played by Robin Williams), accepts aging and death rather than let the love of his... er, life die of old age by herself. Humanity also refuses to recognize him as one of them until he becomes mortal.
    Andrew: I've always tried to make sense of things. There must be some reason I am as I am. As you can see, Madam Chairman, I am no longer immortal.
    President Bota: You have arranged to die?
    Andrew: In a sense, I have. I am growing old, and my body is deteriorating, and like all of you, will eventually cease to function. As a robot, I could have lived forever. But I tell you all today, that I would rather die a man, than live for all eternity as a machine.
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    • The Isaac Asimov short story is similar, though less about the Power of Love.
    Andrew Martin (on being told that he had violated the Third Law): "No. I have chosen between the death of my body and the death of my aspirations and desires. To have let my body live at the cost of the greater death is what would have violated the Third Law."
  • Daybreakers has shades of this when a virus outbreak changes most of the populace to vampires. The opening of the film see a vampire girl committing suicide by sunlight having written a letter explaining how she'll never grow older. The protagonist of the film, Edward, is also weary of never growing old as well.
  • In Death Becomes Her, Madeline and Helen drink a potion that grants eternal youth, but it does not protect them from damage to their bodies. Accidents and attempted murders leave their bodies dead and permanently mutilated. On the other hand, Ernest is offered the potion, but he refuses it, because of how eternal life would be a nightmare even if he didn't fall victim to accidents and mutilation (Furthermore, eternal life with only those two rather horrible women for company really would be a nightmare). He ultimately lives his life happily with a large family and dies peacefully, while the two women bitterly linger on, imprisoned in bodies that literally fall apart at the very end.
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  • In The Fountain, Tom Creo seeks to discover a medical means to immortality through experiments with the bark of a rare tree, but he ultimately learns to accept death as a necessary aspect of life. Though our bodies die, the material is recycled into new organisms, and so we live on through new life. Even planets and stars that die become new stars and bring new life to other worlds. Two parallel stories feature different versions of Tom achieving immortality and finding it fruitless. Tomas the Conquistador seeks and finds the Tree of Life, but ultimately the sap turns his body into flowers, in something of a Literal Genie ending. Spaceman Tom has apparently succeeded in becoming immortal by consuming bark from the rare tree that was grown from the body of his dead wife, but the tree dies before he can resurrect her in a supernova. A vision of his wife convinces him to accept death with joy, and he dies in the supernova, becoming part of a new star. Interestingly, the story also makes room for a very unsympathetic priest to prattle on about immortal souls, which the film seems to dismiss outright.
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  • Tom Hanks's character in The Green Mile ends up outliving all his family because he receives part of the life force of the death row inmate John's healing power. He believes this is punishment from God for executing John. He's not immortal, though. Death will catch up to him eventually, but not for a very, very long time as seen with the mouse Mr. Jingles.
  • Groundhog Day involves a man forced to relive the same day over and over again (for a total of 10,000 years, according to the original script). He commits suicide several times and that only makes the day start over again from his perspective. He doesn't let that get him down for long, but instead makes the most of his endless time and becomes a better person.
  • He Never Died uses this trope as its primary plot device, though the protagonist seems to have gotten used to it after thousands of years.
  • Focused on in the Highlander film, with a montage set to Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever." Connor MacLeod and his wife Heather pass a long and happy marriage together, but Connor must watch his beloved age and die while he lives on, ever youthful. Thus Connor first learns the loneliness of immortality. The upsides and downsides of immortality becomes a running theme in the franchise (see below).
    • It sucks to be an immortal in the world of Highlander: you can't have any children and you have to watch your significant other die of old age; or in Duncan's case (in Highlander: Endgame) you can fall in love with and marry a potential Immortal, deliberately cause her violent death (see below) to activate her immortality (without bothering to explain your rationale for doing so), only to have her quite rightly freak out, run away and become the right hand woman to the guy that wants to kill you.
    • Never mind the fact that many people will want to kill you. Some because they think the fact you're immortal in the first place means you've made a pact with Satan or are otherwise some sort of Humanoid Abomination; others, fellow immortals, want to kill you because doing so makes them more powerful, and the whole idea of your immortality is that "There Can Be Only One" so all of you will have to kill each other at some point, until only a single one is left. By the way, the only way to kill you is Off with His Head!- the former group probably don't know this, so prepare yourself for a lot of painful non-deaths. Which, it so happens, is how your immortality was activated in the first place - you died a violent death to get it. And you probably didn't know about it until that happened.
    • Endgame really drives this nail deep with Connor. Due to all he's lost he's one step away from being a death seeker ans is all to willing to sacrifice himself to Duncan so he can use his power to defeat Jacob Kells.
    • We've seen in the very beginning of the first movie how people react when someone mysteriously survives an horrible death.
      • Not all immortals were like that, though. I mean, Kurgan quite obviously was pretty content with his lot in eternal life. I guess the secret to enjoying immortality is to become a psychopath who simply doesn't care... whch oddly enough kinda makes sense.
    • The Kurgan is still affected by his immortality. If you look closely at his eyes, he has the same sad lonely look that Conner has. Even worse in an early draft, if it wasn't for the Gathering, he would never get out of bed.
  • Hocus Pocus has Thackery Binx cursed to live forever as a cat by the three witch antagonists, forcing him to live with his guilt of being unable to save his sister from them. Conversely, he three antagonists wish to be immortal (it was their goal when they were originally alive, but after being brought back to life, it was the only way to maintain it) by draining the youthful life forces of children.
  • The premise of Hook is that Peter Pan realized the disadvantages of his eternal youth when he discovered Wendy had grown up and aged into an old woman. Which made him decide to give up his immortality, return to earth, and live a normal life.
  • In The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Doctor Parnassus makes a wager with the Devil, with immortality as the prize. A thousand years later, Parnassus is a broken-down drunk and so miserable that he believes the Devil let him win just to torture him.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Théoden's battle cry "DEAAATH!" seems a less ironic version of the above-mentioned "Do you want to live forever?" because it pretty much points out that death what is what they are all heading for. Points in favor: (1) Instead of being disheartened, the Rohirrim join in and throw themselves into battle, (2) Tolkien's idea of death as a gift (see below in literature).
    • Arwen definitely has shades of this, because if she lives forever she will be parted from Aragorn, who is mortal.
  • A major theme in Werner Herzog's remake of Nosferatu is how utterly lonely and depressing the life of a vampire would be.
    Count Dracula: Time is an abyss… profound as a thousand nights. Centuries come and go. To be unable to grow old is terrible. Death is not the worst. There are things more horrible than death. Can you imagine enduring centuries, experiencing each day the same futilities?
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • It seems ("Why are these things never clear?") that whoever stabs Davy Jones's heart will have to live forever, ferrying souls to the afterlife and being allowed to step on land only once in 10 years, or, if you don't ferry souls and skip out on your job, turn into a fishman. Davy Jones is depressed/angry, Will is willing to do it despite leaving his fiancee, and Jack Sparrow thinks it's freaking awesome, complete with an internal debate over whether one lifetime with unlimited rum access or an unlimited lifetime with rum every 10 years is more rum.
      • Word of God however states that because Elizabeth waited the 10 years for Will, he is now released from it and gets to live with her and his son.
    • The first movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, revolves around Barbossa and his crew trying to recollect all the cursed Aztec gold they stole. They're cursed with Immortality, except that food and drink is tasteless and they are constantly starving.
    Barbossa: For too long I've been parched of thirst and unable to quench it. Too long I've been starving to death and haven't died. I feel nothing. Not the wind on my face nor the spray of the sea. Nor the warmth of a woman's flesh.
    Teague: It's not just about living forever, Jackie. It's about living with yourself forever.
    • In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, it turns out that Blackbeard is the only character who honestly wants the Fountain's promised immortality for himself. Angelica wants it to prolong her time with her father; the Spanish want to destroy the Fountain, to protect God's exclusive right to dispense eternal life; King George's men, not realizing this, want to stop the Spanish king from claiming immortality; and Barbossa really only wants revenge on Blackbeard. Even Jack decides he'd really rather be remembered forever than become immortal due to Human Sacrifice.
    Jack: "Oh, it's a pirate's life for me. Savvy?"
  • In the film version of Queen of the Damned, this is the driving force behind Lestat's actions, and thus the entire movie.
    "Immortality seems like a good idea, until you realize you're going to spend it alone."
  • The 1985 film from New Zealand, The Quiet Earth, is about a man who finds himself the only man alive after an experiment he participated in to change the universal constants, except for two other survivors he later finds. He insists at one point that he can't die. And indeed he becomes the only one left alive, despite attempting at self-sacrifice, stranded in a universe which has had its physical laws rewritten.
  • Razor Blade Smile has a common subtext about how a vampire can come to terms with living for centuries. By the end of the main plot it turns out that the entire conflict was exactly this, a game to while away the centuries with living pieces.
  • Shadow of the Vampire. Count Orlock reads the book Dracula and is saddened by the scene where Dracula leaves a meal for Jonathan Harker, and remembers when he used to have servants to do such tasks for him, which reminds him of when he had a wife, family, estates etc, whereas as now he's just a bloodsucking scavenger living in a ruined castle.
    "He has to feed him, when he himself hasn't eaten food in centuries. Can he even remember how to buy bread? How to select cheese and wine? And then he remembers the rest of it: how to prepare a meal, how to make a bed. He remembers his first glory, his armies, his retainers, and what he is reduced to. The loneliest part of the book comes when the man accidentally sees Dracula setting his table."
  • When the title character of Skellig is told he looks like a dead person, he very seriously replies, "I should be so lucky." He has completely given up on life, but says he is thousands of years old and is heavily implied to be an angel, so death is not even an option for him.
  • In Troy, Achilles says that the gods envy humans "because we're mortal—because any moment might be our last."
  • The angelic protagonist of Wings of Desire (and its American remake, City of Angels) gives up immortality for love as well.
  • Exploited in The Wolverine by Ichirō Yashida to convince Logan to accept his "gift" of growing old and dying so he can live beyond his natural life span.
  • The cult film Zardoz features a future Earth which has degenerated into two classes — the "Brutals", a race of mortal slaves, and the immortal "Eternals." who live lives of purposeless luxury. Occasionally, an Eternal will develop a mental illness which makes them fall into a state of catatonia. (These people are called "The Apathetics"). If an Eternal commits a crime, they can be punished by being artificially aged (although they don't die — they just become permanently decrepit). The end of the movie has most of the Eternals joyously welcoming their own destruction at the hands of the "Exterminators," a primitive warrior class to whom the main character belongs.
  • The 1990 short film 12:01 involves a man who encounters the destruction of the entire universe when it collides with another universe. But the process in fact sets the time back an hour. And there's nothing he can do to save the universe. So he lives the final hour of the universe, forever.
  • In Vamps, this is one reason Goody and Stacy decide to give up vampirism and become human again. The other reason is that Stacy's unborn child won't survive unless Stacy becomes human. Goody and Stacy had fun as vampires, but admit that "being young is getting kinda old".
  • In In Time, Henry Hamilton chooses to transfer his remaining lifespan to Will Salas, dying as a result, because he could no longer live with himself knowing that his rich compatriots hoard all the wealth to live forever and let the poor die. He has already lived for a century, while still looking like Matt Bomer.
  • This is the entire premise of The Age of Adaline: the main character stopped aging and has had to live an isolated existence ever since, avoiding close ties to anyone and changing her name every decade to avoid suspicion. She has also had to watch her daughter grow old while she herself has remained the same age. She explains to her daughter at one point that, without being able to grow old together, love is only heartbreak.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, this is the result the Witch Queen wants to achieve by giving Kaulder his immortality, as this way he'll never enter afterlife to see his wife and child again. He's terrified by this in the prologue, but after eight centuries of Time Skip, he seems to have largely taken it in stride.
  • The adaptation of Frankenstein, Frankenstein: The True Story has the creature try to destroy itself after it realizes its body has begun to degrade making it ugly and unacceptable to humans. At the end, Frankenstein apologizes for cursing it with an undying body as both are buried in an avalanche of snow.
  • Adam, the protagonist of I, Frankenstein, doesn't see his immortal life as a gift. After encountering the gargoyles and the demons, he arms himself with demon-slaying weapons, but doesn't specifically task himself with ending the demons. Instead, he simply goes through centuries, still bitter about his creator turning on him. It's not until the climax, when he finally gains a human soul, that he resolves to use his immortality to protect humanity from the demon threat.
  • We Are the Night: Charlotte is depressed with being immortal, because she had a husband and daughter who were left behind when Louise made her a vampire. After watching her now very old daughter die in a nursing home, Charlotte takes her own life.

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