Here’s a documentary with a difference about a family in Thailand. When their daughter Einz falls prey to brain cancer before her third birthday, her parents make the bold decision to have her cryonically frozen at death in the hope that she can, at some point in the future, perhaps in several hundred years’ time, be resuscitated and lead a normal life.
She has a devoted, older teenage brother Matrix who would do anything for her having waited over ten years for a sibling. Their dad Sahatorn is a working laser scientist who starts running experiments on his daughter’s cancer cells in an attempt to fund a cure before the condition kills her. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t find a cure. Eventually, he talks wife Nareerat and son round to the idea of having Einz cryonically frozen.
Upon Einz’ death, within 60 seconds her body has been frozen for delivery to a facility run by a company in Arizona called Alcor. We watch a representative of this company show the whole family round, which tour includes the cylinder at the bottom section of which Einz has been put into cryonic storage. For the family, it feels a lot like visiting a graveside. They’ll probably never see her alive again.
Matrix goes into a Buddhist monastery in order to try and come to terms with his sister’s death. When his parents later have another daughter Einz Einz, there’s speculation on the part of the wider family that Einz Einz is the reincarnation of Einz.
Much is made of the possibility of the human race overcoming death, but completely absent is any notion of income or cost. Clearly this kind of procedure is expensive because not everyone undertakes it. So well off people can be preserved while poorer people simply die. Yet without addressing any of that, this film presents its observations in an economic vacuum which is probably beyond the reach of most of us. That weakness aside, it’s a fascinating study of an area where science fiction is fast turning into science fact with huge philosophical, religious and socio-political implications for us all.
Hope Frozen plays in the BFI London Film Festival on Sun 6th and Mon 7th October (2019). On Netflix in September (2020).