Forever Young (1992)


Introduction

Forever Young is a 1992 American science fiction-romantic drama film directed by Steve Miner and starring Mel Gibson, Elijah Wood, and Jamie Lee Curtis.

The screenplay was written by J. J. Abrams from an original story named “The Rest of Daniel”.

Outline

In 1939, Captain Daniel McCormick is a United States Army Air Corps test pilot. After a successful run and subsequent crash landing in a prototype North American B-25 Mitchell bomber at Alexander Field in Northern California, McCormick is greeted by his longtime friend, Harry Finley, who is a scientist. Finley confides that his latest experiment, “Project B”, has succeeded in doing the impossible. The machine, built by Finley and his team of scientists, is a prototype chamber for cryonic freezing. When McCormick’s girlfriend, Helen, goes into a coma from an accident and the doctors doubt she will ever recover, McCormick insists he be put in suspended animation for one year, starting 26 November 1939, so he will not have to watch Helen die.

Fifty-three years later, two boys are playing inside a military storage warehouse which is being emptied in preparation for its demolition. They discover the suspended animation chamber containing McCormick and are enticed by it. Believing it to be a miniature submarine, they proceed to play with its dials and controls and accidentally activate the restoration process. The chamber opens and McCormick reflexively grabs one boy’s coat, causing them to flee in terror, leaving the coat clasped in McCormick’s hand. Shortly after, McCormick awakens to the realisation that it is now 1992. After appropriating shorts and a shirt from a clothesline, he first approaches the military about his experiences. When they dismiss him as crazed, McCormick becomes more determined to learn what happened to Finley, Helen, and the world that has seemingly evolved overnight around him.

An address tag inside the jacket leads McCormick to the owner, 10-year old Nat Cooper, one of the two boys who opened the chamber. Though the boys are initially terrified, McCormick is able to calm Nat and his friend with the truth of his story. While hiding in Nat’s tree house with a secret stash of junk food, he witnesses Nat’s single mother Claire being assaulted by her abusive, alcoholic ex-boyfriend, and goes to her defence. After McCormick receives a gash in the fight, Claire, a nurse, fixes it up and a bond develops between the two. This bond is strengthened when she offers McCormick a place to stay, until he can discover what to do with his search. Nonetheless, McCormick’s time is running out, as his body starts to age rapidly because the suspended animation chamber process was not entirely successful.

When another “ageing attack” practically cripples McCormick, Claire is told the amazing truth. Susan, Finley’s daughter, informs him that her father died many years earlier, before she was born (the government later specifies it was a warehouse fire in the early ’40’s, while trying to save the frozen McCormick from the chaos). Susan also gives McCormick her father’s journals, hoping he can use them to reverse his own condition. However, according to the journals, the cryogenic process did not properly stop ageing, but rather postponed it, thus explaining Daniel’s own rapid ageing. Before leaving, Susan gives McCormick one further revelation: Helen is alive. The government is also after McCormick, but in the end, Claire hands over Finley’s journals on “Project B” and no one is arrested as the government investigates what went wrong.

McCormick’s final task is to find Helen in the present day. McCormick commandeers a B-25 bomber from an air show with Nat a stowaway on board. Claire notices Nat is gone and he was last in the plane with Daniel. The Government will wait for Nat and Daniel to get back and escort them home, so they can finish their research on Harry’s machine and research from the hospital on Daniel’s condition too. Nat helps McCormick land when another attack nearly kills him. His true age having finally caught up with him, the now-elderly McCormick reunites with the elderly Helen and asks her to marry him and she accepts.

Cast

  • Mel Gibson – Captain Daniel McCormick.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis – Claire Cooper.
  • Elijah Wood – Nat Cooper.
  • Isabel Glasser – Helen.
  • George Wendt – Harry Finley.
  • Joe Morton – Cameron.
  • Nicolas Surovy – John.
  • David Marshall Grant – Lt. Col. Wilcox, USAF.
  • Robert Hy – Gorman Felix.
  • Millie Slavin – Susan Finley.
  • Michael Goorjian – Steven.
  • Veronica Lauren – Alice.
  • Art LaFleur – Alice’s Father.
  • Eric Pierpoint – Fred.
  • Richard Ryder – Pilots at Airshow.
  • Michael Briggs – Pilots at Airshow.
  • Walton Goggins – Gate MP.

Trivia

  • In November 1990, Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to “The Rest of Daniel” for $2 million, the most ever paid for a screenplay.
  • Ostensibly purchased as a star vehicle for Gibson, he turned down the opportunity to direct the feature.
  • A North American B-25J Mitchell known as “Photo Fanny” (from the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California) is featured prominently in the film, both as the B-25 prototype and later as the restored warbird McCormick flies to his beloved.
  • Despite the lukewarm reviews, mostly focused on the script, the film did well with audiences, and took in $127,956,187 worldwide.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Steve Miner.
  • Producer(s): Bruce Davey.
  • Writer(s): J.J. Abrams.
  • Music: Jerry Goldsmith.
  • Cinematography: Russell Boyd.
  • Editor(s): Jon Poll.
  • Production: Icon Productions.
  • Distributor(s): Warner Bros.
  • Release Date: 11 December 1992.
  • Running Time: 102 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

 

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