Lifespan (1976)

LIFESPAN (1976)
Article 2776 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-13-2008
Posting Date: 3-20-2009
Directed by Sandy Whitelaw
Featuring Hiram Keller, Tina Aumont, Klaus Kinski
Country: USA/UK/Netherlands/Belgium

An American scientist comes to Amsterdam to work with another scientist on developing a serum for immortality. When the second scientist commits suicide, the American moves into his apartment and tries to piece together the research he did. He discovers that the dead scientist did come up with a solution, but crucial research information has disappeared. The American tries to trace the other scientist’s research, unaware that he is being led into a trap…

This is an odd but engaging science fiction mystery with noirish overtones. It takes a very low-key approach to the proceedings, and there are moments where the science fiction elements of the movie threaten to move into the territory of the Gizmo Maguffin, but that doesn’t quite happen. Rather, it becomes a meditation on one of the classic horror themes – just how much is one willing to play with human lives for the sake of science? I’d be almost tempted to retitle the movie “How I Became a Mad Scientist”. The movie manages to pull off certain tricks which might hurt other movies; the constant narration actually serves a purpose by giving us an insight into the scientist’s mind, which becomes crucial towards the end of the movie. The sex and nudity also feels relevant rather than merely exploitative, since it’s all part of the web of conspiracy that is being woven around the man. The movie ends with a decision being made and a plan for the future, but it does leave you speculating as to whether the scientist will indeed succeed with his plans, or whether the web is woven too tight around him. This movie seems to only have an average reputation, but I found it quite engaging.

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