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Errol Morris tackles cryogenics

ErrolMorris.jpgErrol Morris is best known for his hard hitting documentaries like The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War and Standard Operating Procedure (Filmstalker review) is set to tackle a fascinating project next, the birth of cryogenics.

His next film is set to look into the group of men who froze the first man, adapted from the book We Froze the First Man by Robert F. Nelson (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com), a TV repairman who joined a group in the 1960's intent on freezing the first person.

I'm still trying to decipher the article in Variety, I sometimes find it hard to read their articles which aren't always entirely clear or grammatically well written and tend to rely heavily on Hollywood short hand, non-dictionary terms and badly punctuated stacato sentences.

However they seem to suggest that this is going to be a dark comedy and mark Errol Morris' departure from the documentary. Something I don't whole heartedly believe.

The story follows Robert F. Nelson who gave up his job as a TV repairman in the sixties and joined a group of people who believed that they could freeze people before they died and keep them frozen until science found a cure for what they were infected with and bring them back to life.

Some hope since these people are now dead, but never mind, they're getting rich from it.

I'm surprised that Errol Morris is heading in this direction as this story seems perfect for a more light hearted documentary, that's why I'm not entirely sure that the article means that this is a dark comedy and perhaps it's going to be a documentary with a comic vein running through it.



Variety misreported this. The film is not going to be a comedy, though there are a few darkly humorous situations that occurred and will likely (hopefully)be used in the film.

Errol heard the episode of This American Life about Bob nelson and loved it. He contacted TAL about making a feature. TAL had a deal with Nelson for shopping rights. Other film makers were also interested, but when Errol showed up with Steve Zailian, it was on. Errol and Steve took the idea to Mandate, and Mandate jumped on it right away.

The story is fantastic. It's not just about the first freezing. Bob went on to freeze a number of people who had no money and ended up in over his head. He took desperate measures to keep the bodies frozen, such as putting four people in a capsule meant for one which was the size of a hot water heater. Since they were frozen, it took hours to get them situated so they would all fit. The capsule failed and the bodies thawed. He did the same thing with another capsule and three other bodies, including an eight year old girl. That capsule also failed. He was eventually sued by the family members an lost. He is considered by people in cryonics to be a hero, and by others to be a villain, even a mass murderer, which is kind of silly since they were all dead anyway.

I spent three years helping Bob research and write his memoirs about the "Chatsworth Scandal" as it's often referred. I'm just as exhilarated by the story now as I was when we first started. If done right, this will be a very good movie. It's based on the book We Froze the first man, the TAL episode Mistakes Were Made, and the unpublished (hopefully not for long) manuscript Bob and I wrote. With Errol directing, I'm sure it's going to be a success.


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