The Movie Realive Discussed and Explained
Realive (or Project Lazarus) was a contemplative study on what it would mean to really be immortal. The problems. But if you don't want to think, and listen to a quiet movie. Don't even try.
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The Movie Realive Discussed and Explained

I’m going to stand on my soapbox for a second and rant a bit as something of a segue way into this movie. So buckle up. I don’t dig normal movies. I mean, they are fine. Sometimes. But don’t talk down to me. Please please don’t talk down to me. And better yet, give me something to think about. So the harder a movie is to understand, the more I like it. (Thus this entire website.) But in my real life, people know that I run this site so they’ll stop me in an elevator and say hey! Tay! What should I watch this weekend. And, because I’m a super super nice guy… I say, you know what?!? Give X movie a try. And more often than not? I hear back from them something to the effect of, “Dude, you are mental!” And to put this in context, I heard this while recommending the movie ARRIVAL. ARRIVAL! Of all the movies I like, the Arrival is about as normal as it gets!

So all that to say, Realive is not one of the NORMAL movies that I would recommend. Realive is an introspective head job of a movie that makes you realistically reassess our ideas of longevity, cryogenics, timelessness, etc. And none of those words in that last sentence are normal. None of them. Right? So, if you are one of those people that plans to come back to me later and tell me how much Realive is to the latest Marvel movie? I do not want to hear it. Nope. But if you don’t mind listening to a slower movie postulate about an real imagined future, this might possibly be a movie you might get into. Maybe.

Yeah, so if that looks interesting to you – maybe you should check it out. The original title is actually Proyecto Lázaro, or Project Lazarus, which makes perfect sense after watching the film. But in the west I believe it is being marketed as Realive. So, if you didn’t catch it from the trailer – the movie is about a man that cryogenically freezes himself after finding out he has a inoperable brain tumor. And he wakes up 80 years later after extensive rebuilding and reworking of his physical body. Surprisingly, the reality of his being brought back to life isn’t anything close to what he had imagined would happen. Not by a long shot. And as he struggles with this new world and this new reality he ponders why he made this choice. The movie is told in a very well choreographed back and forth between 80 years prior and the future. And it really is an interesting discussion about the ethics and the realities of such a thing. 

If you would like a more contemplative movie for your evening. And you like to think. And you don’t mind more questions than answers. But oh you have to have your awesome trick ending? This might just work for me. It worked for me. But, we all know how few people are like me.

Realive Movie Overview

From here on out, this post is all about the inner workings of this movie. Please find a copy of the film and watch it before proceeding. Thanks for that!

So like I said, this movie kicks off with Marc and Naomi and their various and sorted friends finding out that Marc has a brain tumor. It is inoperable, and he maybe has a year to live. But Marc an Naomi (Oona Chaplin – um, Taboo much anyone?!?) have only just gotten back together again, what are they going to do?!?

And as I said, this movie is told in a see-saw fashion as we learn what happened to Marc in the past and also what happened to him in the future. It was a very interesting and compelling editing decision really. So flash forward to the future when Marc wakes up. His body is less than it was, but then again, he was sitting in a cryochamber for the better part of a century. So what do you expect? And the movie starts in on this assumption right away with Marc’s voice over, “What can we expect from life? A body that is strong…?” that was his expectation anyway. An assumption that was incorrect.

Not only that, but his body is beginning to lose his memories of the past. They are fogging out and growing more grey, and less detailed. But the doctor, Victor, is keeping things from him. What is it? Why are they kepping secrets? And as his rehabilitation progresses, Marc continues to try and figure out what they are lying to him about.

Flash back to the past and Naomi, and we realize that the relationship between Marc and Naomi has been something of a star-crossed lover situation from the beginning. Marc is into Naomi, but tires of waiting. Naomi tires of the flightiness of her boyfriend, but Marc has already moved on. Etc. etc. It is a compelling push and pull that shows there was a lot more to their relationship than we were led to believe in the beginning. I actually really loved this detail as it showed a relationship realistically for once. So we finally understand that this brain tumor is just one more tug of war in their relationship that is pulling them back apart again.

Leap forward again to the future, and Marc is handed a box of belongings that was held for him. And inside this box is a letter from Naomi at 54. The note from Naomi lets him know that she is dying now, and that she is going to cryogenically freeze herself at the same company as well. And that she is hopeful to see him again. But Marc makes this fantastic quote about both their relationship and life in general: “No! Life is too fragile and too difficult for me to actually find you in a different place and a different time.”

More importantly, the audience discovers that his body is boycotting himself, and that was why his memories were failing. But more importantly, Marc is starting to feel guilty about the decisions that he made to freeze himself and to leave Naomi behind. “And it’s no wonder, he sacrificed a remarkable woman for an inadequate dream.”

Realive and Thoughts On The Afterlife

The movie sort of opens a discourse with the viewer about halfway through when it asks what we hope for when we think of the afterlife. It wonders aloud if our goal is to make up for the grief and the pain of this life? Or maybe to settle the debts of sin and guilt maybe? No… actually – the movie posits – that instead, we are hoping to have in the afterlife what we once had but then lost. And that stopped me in my tracks. Is that what I see when I envision heaven or the afterlife? Um. I don’t know. Is it a remix of this life, with brighter colors, and more glowing yellow light, and all our familiar friends and family? If there really was something, the movie states, we would turn it in to the exact same tale by the exact same idiot.

The Hidden Sins Of The Fathers

And that is when Marc goes hunting for clues as to what it is exactly that the organization is hiding from him. And eventually he finds a pile of chips to be used with his Mind Writer, a sort of Black Mirror type of device that lets the user record their memories and review them later. But these chips were of the failed attempts to create the first Lazarus… the many failed attempts that tried and tried and tried to create the first Lazarus. Some Lazarii commit suicide. Some have their skin and organs fail. Some just go completely mad.

At that point, is when Marc finds out that the company has decided to bring Naomi back as the second Lazarus. And that is when Marc starts to unhinge a bit. But why? Because it was when he was about to drink the poison that he realized that his last few months on earth were the best moments of his life. Both the joys, and the sorrows… feeling deeply… being really alive. And so he says, “Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen of the future, I decide I want to be nothing again and to rest in peace.”

The Ending Right Hook of Realive

So what is that ending about? He heads to Naomi’s cryo-unit, and pulls off the tube, and opens the lid. And then sits there with his head against Naomi’s unit to die. Fade to black.

White light. Wait what?

“Marc, we are so glad we got to you in time. We will never let you be discouraged again.”

End of movie.

What happened? Well, Marc basically ruined Naomi’s chances for coming back again by thawing her out. He was intent not to inflict this on her like it was inflicted on him. That what they had together in the few months before he died was the best possible outcome for his life. And to mar that memory by trying to rebuild what he had here in the future? With this other woman? Or even with Naomi? Makes no sense at all. It will never be that again. That, is gone. And this? This is different. And horrifying actually. Marc is effectively a caged lab rat. Marc is an investor report. Marc is a stock price boost. And so he ended his life. And ended Naomi’s.

But not so fast, because Marc is their prodigy. He is there marketing plan. He can’t die now because that would mean the company would have to admit failure. He can’t disappear because that would be explainable and untenable to the stock holders. So they rush to him, and even though he’s dead, they bring him back yet again. And this time, they will keep him medicated and happy. They will control him, pardon the metaphor, soup to nuts. Think about it. The only reason they were bringing Naomi back was to increase his optimism and to rally his spirits. The only reason they were intervening on her behalf was because Marc’s body was rejecting this experience. And in order to sell it to him physically they were going to intervene and bring his old life back to him.

No? Marc will awake to the news that Naomi is in the recovery room near by. And in a few weeks she will be in good enough shape to be seen. And he’ll be in good enough shape to get up again. And the two of them will search for ways to make this horror end but will be perpetually cryo-slaves until the stock owners for the company deem them irrelevant after newer technology has been released. But for now? They are not dying. No sir. Not on their watch.

No? What are your thoughts on the movie? I’d love to hear just how much you hated it. Really. I would. hahaha.

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15 Responses

  1. Judy

    Sorry, I can’t tell you how much I hated it, because I liked it a LOT. It gave my philosophical brain cells a much-needed workout. And at the ending – I said, out loud, “OH, NOOOO!”

    Reply
  2. Meg

    While watching, I could not help thinking that there was more to this movie. The theme of chopped heads (chicken head, cryogenic “economy option” of the human head)…. If our diseased organs cause us to die, then by localizing consciousness in only the head for example, should ensure a longer life? No? Also, what is a good life? Do we need a body? Can one happily live in “one’s head”? Is re-living good memories sufficient? What to do with the traumatic memories? Is the body, called “the meat” by Marc worth preserving if the “spirit/consciousness/sense of I” (whatever you call it) does not necessarily travel with it? Marc kept chasing the next thrill. By self-admission, he never savoured the present moment. Is mindfulness perpetuated by the frequent use of the “Mind Reader” technology sufficient to create authentic contentment? If you can simply just use pills to create desire (as Marc and his nurse did), then why not just use pills to create permanent emotional states with zero side-effects.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Marc kept chasing the next thrill. By self-admission, he never savoured the present moment.

      This quote of yours summed up the movie better than I did in an entire post. Very true. And you raise a million other thoughts and questions that the movie delves into. I really enjoyed this movie and how it opened my eyes to a horror potentially in the making.

      How did you two find out about the movie? And how did you watch it?

      Reply
  3. Brit

    Didn’t he have oesaphageal cancer? If he had brain cancer they wouldn’t have been able to resurrect him with brain intact. I hated/loved the movie, definitely raises a lot of questions. I found Marc to be quite a dislikable character and quite selfish.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Yeah, throat cancer… yes. And Right, Marc was truly selfish. But I think that was the point, though. No? His transformation from selfish to selfless? He tried to keep it from happening to Naomi. (Which, I think ultimately failed. In order to keep him happy, I’m cure it included Naomi in the plan somewhere.)

      But yeah, the movie isn’t one that I would rush out and tell everyone about. Cough. Oh wait. I guess I did by posting about it. But I wouldn’t mention it to friends like, “YOU TOTALLY HAVE TO SEE THIS MOVIE!” anyway. I actually do that with some movies that I review here. (The One I Love probably being my biggest sleeper recommendation.)

      Reply
      • JM

        Do you really believe that it’s exactly “..His transformation from selfish to selfless?”
        I don’t. It’s again just his only fear to spoil his own ideal memories and memories of “perfect him” in these last months of their relationship with Naomi.
        Yeah, Marc had idyllic relationship when time was strictly limited and every sec was spent to remember. If they had a long life afar probably they would not care their relationship in that way. Moreover, we witnessed their experience before he was diagnosed.. not too sweety.
        And I’d like to stress that Marc is not the hero in his attempt to prevent Naomi to be realived. This poor woman lived so many years with the idea to die to have a chance to see him again. I am sure that she wouldn’t afraid of painful recovery time or temporary extra-attention from press. Her love is stronger than that… In favor of Mark we can assume that he was somehow affected by video of previous patients.. but he couldn’t deny she was extremely important subject of press story so doctors would do all miracle not to let her die. And Marc and Naomi would see the outside world one day.. But he’s affraid of difficulties. So it is just his fear. His selfishness. He prefers to become the only man for a girl and at this peak of her love he’d rather hurry up to leave (even the world), as it was with Naomy or the nurse. Coward!

  4. Miraaj joshi

    I chose this movie. Over Logan and Fantastic beasts as I have an inclination towards sci-fi.Actors have done a great job but I wish the protaganist was Tom Cruise.It would have been more impactful or maybe the setting reminded me of oblivion.Whatever but this movie is a gem.It was unpredictable and threw at us many things to ponder.Loved the voiceover of the actor and the way he questions his existence when he is reanimated.I feel on emotional quotient this film is on par with Arrival.A great watch

    Reply
  5. Tom Dick

    Is there any other movie with this much rich content? Many of the conversations in this movie is thought provoking..

    Reply
    • TopDownRide

      I think “Identicals” is simlar, just not quite as deep, introspective, or haunting. I’d describe Identicals as film 1, & Realive/Project Lazarus as film 3, in a progession. Terrence Malik’s Tree of Life & Knight of Cups have similar intropspective, haunting themes, just not sci-fi.

      Reply
  6. Rishabh

    Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the the movie, AND this article on it. But I have to mention something that is bugging me! It was quite selfish/presumptuous of Marc to unplug Naomi and ruin her chances. One, that the team of doctors would have made sure that Naomi has a successful re-animation since they announced it to the stake holders, and they knew it was one of the only ways to help Marc in his recovery, and Two, He had no idea of the life Naomi lived after him, I mean even after a decade she decided to freeze herself to meet him again, she made that decision with her own will just like Marc. The logic he gave was the time he spent with her last was the best, but he neglected the fact that Naomi lived another decade as well, and the only way she believed, for her to “Rest in Peace” was meet/see her love again. Which was her choice not his.

    Have I gotten too deep into the movie at this point? 😛 Anyway, I’m very glad I found your website by the way, I watched the movie first, immediately came up on the Internet, finding people who are as weird as me who love these kinds of movies, found this article via google, and now I’m excited to explore your website in general now!..
    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Welcome to the home for the emotionally unstable, for the theatrically obsessed! You make some great points here Rishabh. Like, really good. What if she had abandoned him completely after? What if she became a Buddhist or worse, some religious person that disagrees with this reanimation thing? She wakes up SCREAMING at the top of her lungs, UNCLEAN UNCLEAN!!!! hahahaha. You are totally right. Thanks for finding us my friend. Please enjoy your stay. There are TONS of movies like this that we are discussing here. ARQ, Primer, Timelapse, Timecrimes, Predestination, Mother!, They Look Like People, If There’s A Hell Below, Victoria, tons and tons! Welcome, jump in, the water is warm! hahaha.

      Reply
  7. Israrchibald

    Hello Taylor and fellow readers of this website!

    You see, it’s pretty rare for me to comment on anything that is nothing my personal social media, like twitter etc, but I do really love to read movie or tv series reviews in websites. But then i found your website, I mean I’m really addicted to mind-cracking movies or, as you often say, movies that just make you think in a cool e deep way. We can say that you webiste fullfiled (or has been fullfiling) all my wishes on seeking for more and more movies like Realive ( or Primer, Timelapse, Predestinations, those which i’ve already seen and read your reviews).

    The thing is, that as stated above, Marc is to me a pretty selfish person in a lot of ways, but thinking carefully (aside all the discussion he proporses about himself on the “urge” of living) when facing imminent death, I dont know exactly If i can blame him that much. For what we can see he wasn’t the type who was living a boring life, i believe is pretty much the contraire. As stated in the movie, his decision was mainly took on the idea that all of he expected from life just happened in a blink of an eye, and suddenly is gone. He wanted desperately to have this to last more throughout all of his life. And I do believe most of us, human beings, are like that, when we remember about that good trip, or nice dinner we had that we know in the bottom of our hearts that nothing like this will ever happen again, because there are a lot of events on our lives that are unique: condition, people, timing and it goes on. But Marc was facing death, helding in account all that i just said, he idealized a way to make it last forever. in the future.

    Anyway, aside Marc analysis, i felt SO connected to this movie. I mean, i believe i’m totally different from Mark, but the angst of realize how short life is and how everything is happening in a blink of an eye, and how we should value our time here not in a divine or transcendental way (as he brutally states in the film), but perceiving who stand with us, and to not be angry about that little incridible moment that will never comeback (life on university, that birthday party on a friends house, the first word you child said etc.) but to be grateful that you have ever lived it all (hello arrival, thank you for that too, hehe).

    (sorry for this enormous commentary, but i felt like i needed to put this out. And keep all the good work!! I’m in love with this website).

    Reply
  8. Dedbiti Chakraborty

    Well being a philosophy student and a person who is suddenly into sci-fi movies because honestly, they have lot and lot of philosophy or should I metaphysics? I loved the movie and honestly I would like to know your comments on other movies like Rememory, Anti-matter, OtherLives, Simple Creature and the list goes on. I came on this site just because of the last scene and it made me wonder about Elizabeth too because they didn’t show her. Maybe she was caught? And if you would please tell me the metaphors of the chicken and the lizard. I mean I think I have got it but just to be sure. If you please will. . . Thank you 🙂 <3

    Reply
  9. Dylan Williams

    I think after watching the movie twice back to back because it helped put pieces together that what the end of the movie showed was them reviving him again and saying that he had opened the tank with his lovers body in it in attempt to make sure there was no way possible to put her through that agony that they ended up taking Emily and using her organs to revive Naomi so they could be happy what Emily told him was poison want poison it was actually a coma type drug to put him down for a bit so they could revive Naomi so in conclusion she was meant to be his lover when he was reanimated so instead of him dyeing and all being lost she gave him his love her love and reanimated Naomi. Or she is just been put inside of Naomi’s body so to say and has used mind writer to fill in all of Naomi’s memory’s. Into her own brain so she could be Naomi either way I think that Emily sacrificed herself to recreate Naomi for him. Im sorry for the long drawn out opinions but those are my thoughts on it

    Reply

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