'Realive' is Like 'Black Mirror' Meets an Updated Asimov Story
Waking up in a future world after being frozen for a ridiculously long time is one of science fiction’s oldest ideas. What makes SYFY’s feature film Realive different is the fact that the real-life possibility of cryogenics doesn’t seem as fantastic as fantastic as Buck Rogers or as wacky as Sleeper.
Part of that has to do with the world in which we live. The character in the trailer for Realive gets the old-school moniker “Lazarus” but, contemporary cryogenics is decidedly more new-school. Zebrafish have recently been unfrozen successfully. Meanwhile, it looks like the freezing of individual human organs cryogenically is also already possible.
And yet, the interesting thing about Realive is that isn’t only about the sci-fi premise of cryogenic-freezing. Midway through the new trailer, the concept of a “mind-writer” is introduced. This piece of tech will allow Lazarus to record his memories, not unlike the contact-lens recorder from the Black Mirror episode “The Entire History of You.” The difference of course here is that the “grain” tech in Black Mirror has users record their memories in real time. The memory-recording in Realive is retroactive.
Intentionally or not, this recalls an Isaac Asimov story from 1955 called “Dreaming is a Private Thing.” In that one, a future is postulated where TV and movies have gone the way of the dodo in favor of users getting off on watching other people’s dreams. Indeed, an entire industry exists around this enterprise, including the concept of “professional dreamers.”
In Realive, when “Lazarus” wonders about who will own his memories once they are recorded, the value of human experience looks to become central. With Black Mirror and Asimov, the notion of what constitutes human experience or privacy is explored through sci-fi addictions and a fetishization of one’s own personal past. With Realive, the question seems taken to the next level. Because if we can watch the legit recorded memories of a human unfrozen from 100 years prior, do we really need the human body at all?
Realvie was released in 2016 in Spain but will hit theaters in the US on September 29. SyFy will have the movie available for video-on-demand on October 3.