I've just read on Brazilian's magazine "Mundo Estranho"(¹) an article claiming that there are currently about 250 people preserved in a literally frozen state, based on the hope that they may be brought back to life in the future (as described here). Some of these people are famous characters.

My question is pretty straightforward: Are there any movies depicting such premise? In a rather quick search I couldn't find any.

[Edit] I am indeed aware of depictions in the form of "deep sleep", "hybernation", "cryo-sleep" and such. Some of them in video-games, some in movies where it's portrayed as a "secondary" topic (Interstellar for instance). What I'm actually looking for is a realist (either in the scientific or sociocultural sense of the word), sci-fi movie in the context of the scenario I introduced, hence having as the central plot:

The idea of people being declared dead, being frozen and then brought back to life and society in a distant future.

¹ "Mundo Estranho" means "Strange World" in a loose translation. The one I'm quoting is no. 174 and refer Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Cryonics Institute and BBC as sources.

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    Cryogenics and sleeping pods are a very common trope. – cde Feb 3 '16 at 3:54
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    Generally, IMHO, cryogenics is only uses as a plot device in sci-fi because the medical part is dull. Either they are cured, or they die/stay on ice. It's the interpersonal experiences that the person goes through as a fish out of water that's the compelling part. Like FTL travel. How you get somewhere isn't important, its why you travel, and what you do that matters. – cde Feb 3 '16 at 7:23
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    What about Hibernatus? ;-) – Chanandler Bong Feb 3 '16 at 8:13
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    I'm not sure your edit makes this into an answerable question. If someone is "dead", why would we bother freezing them? We declare people legally dead now and do it, but we've already discussed plenty of films that do this. I'm not sure exactly what you're asking for here. – Andrew Martin Feb 3 '16 at 16:33
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    This edit makes it look like you're just asking for a list of films, which is off-topic here. There are many films that center to some degree around this topic, many are already included in the answers below. – Catija Feb 3 '16 at 16:35

Most often, cryogenic preservation, the intentional freezing of the ill or declared dead, is used simply as a plot device to introduce a fish out of water or time travel story. The method of stasis and their medical condition are waylaid to the events that happen after they are revived. It's rarely used as a central theme in fictional writing. There seems to be no mainstream movie broaching the subject by itself. That said, it does pop up in a few shows.

Star Trek The Next Generation episode "The Neutral Zone" has the B-plot (Human centric story) of a cryopreservation ship found by the Enterprise. The humans inside were terminal at the time of their freezing, while current medical technology is able to cure all of their diseases within minutes of being revived. Then it dwells into their confrontation of mortality (their own and everyone they knew) and culture shock, having been born in a capitalistic society now faced with an egalitarian one.

Stargate SG-1 episode "Lifeboat" revolves around the complications of cryo stasis when the bodies die due to power failure, but the minds are kept alive in others.

Most notably, the CW is reported to be developing a drama centralized around a medical breakthrough in cryopreservation:

This is an interesting pairing between subject matter and a producer at the CW — the network is working on Cry, a drama about the prospect of eternal life via cryogenic preservation that comes from Paulist Productions, a Catholic media company.
Written and executive produced by Kerry Lenhart and John J. Sakmar (The Glades), Cry tells the story of a doctor who makes the astonishing medical breakthrough to bring cryogenically preserved people back to life, starting with the unfreezing of his own father — but he never expects that restoring life will have both glorious and devastating consequences.
Paulist Prods. executives were attracted to Cry because it explores the moral dilemma cryogenics poses on relationships and society.

While Cry features Cryopreservation, it still focuses on the interpersonal drama, instead of being a medical drama, ala E.R.

  • +1: Cry seems to be what the OP is after, as you pointed out initially in the comments and then here. – Andrew Martin Feb 3 '16 at 19:55

There is an LA Law episode from 1990 called "The Good Human Bar" where one of the terminally ill clients of the titular law firm is seeking to be allowed to be frozen alive (as opposed to post-mortem). I vaguely remember it being filled with many a back and forth over the legality, technology and morality of such an act.

  • The question is specifically asking about films, not TV shows. – Catija Feb 3 '16 at 18:03
  • I upvoted this answer without first realizing that 1) The episode you mention, albeit relevant, isn't science fiction, 2) it only deals with the first part of the topic, excluding the part about bringing the person back to life, and 3) it's not post-mortem as you said yourself. Thanks anyway. – Marc.2377 Feb 4 '16 at 2:01

It's impossible to answer this question (and here's my... er, answer, explaining why!)

To understand why, we need to understand what cryonics is. Alcor is a life extension foundation who are involved in cryonics. On their own website, they have a frequently asked questions section, with the following information:

Q: What is cryonics?

A: Cryonics (from Greek kryos meaning icy cold) is the low-temperature preservation of humans who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, in the expectation they can be healed and resuscitated in the future using more advanced medical technologies. Cryopreservation of people is not reversible with current technology, and is today only practiced following legal death. The rationale for cryonics is that current medical and legal definitions of death are inaccurate and that cryopreserved patients who do not meet the more stringent information-theoretic definition of death retain sufficient biological/neurological structure to be restored to full physical and mental health using advanced future technologies. See About Cryonics.

Q: Has anyone ever been revived?

A: No adult human has ever been revived from temperatures far below freezing. Cryonics patients are cared for in the expectation that future technology, especially molecular nanotechnology, will be available to reverse damage associated with the cryonics process.

Q: Aren’t cryonics patients dead?

A: A person who can be resuscitated is not dead. Therefore if cryonics patients are preserved well enough that they might someday be resuscitated, then they aren’t dead: they are cryopreserved.

Before cryonics procedures can begin under present law, a patient must be legally dead.

I've highlighted some key pieces of information that show two very important facts:

  1. No one has ever been revived from a cryonic state, as the technology isn't advanced enough yet to do this.
  2. For any patient to be cryopreserved, they must be declared "legally dead".

In your question, you ask: Are there any (realistic) movies about cryopreservation?

The problem here is obvious: as there's never been a successful revival of a preserved patient, we have no idea what a realistic revival would actually look like.

Of course, there are plenty of films that have attempted to show cryonics. Iceman showed a prehistoric man who had been frozen in ice naturally and was revived. Aliens, Avatar, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Interstellar all showed it being used to traverse great distances in space (which is the most common reason it is shown). Demolition Man shows freezing being used as a form of penitentiary. From a more light hearted point of view, Futurama shows the lead character unwittingly become frozen, waking up thousands of years later.

But it's impossible to comment on how realistic any of these depictions are, because we simply don't have advanced enough technology to actually know what a realistic revival would look like.


Based on edit of question, I'll argue no, there are no films that have shown this. There are some documentaries that have shown revival of frozen bodies and even made it a fairly "major" theme, such as the upcoming Cry drama @cde has mentioned in the comments.

But as far as I'm aware, all of the bodies are only legally dead, not actually dead. If a body was dead, it's dead. We cannot revive the brain. A futuristic movie could depict such a thing, but it's hard to argue this is realistic as once the brain is dead, it's dead.

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    Don't forget Idiocracy... :D That's one of my favorite ones. – Catija Feb 3 '16 at 15:04
  • Still, a science fiction movie can try and be "realistic" in the sociocultural meaning of the word, allowing for some freedom regarding the scientific intrinsics. And most often than not, that's how it's done. Interstellar is an example (it depicts space travel usign wormholes etc but don't present scientific details on how it's made possible). – Marc.2377 Feb 3 '16 at 16:02
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    @Marc.2377: Agreed, and 2001 is another example. But in the literal sense of the world, we just don't know. Does my answer cover what you're after, or do you want a more detailed/slightly different analysis? – Andrew Martin Feb 3 '16 at 16:04
  • @AndrewMartin I kinda like you answer as-is and appreciate the effort, but I feel it doesn't cover what I really want to know. Please have a look at my latest edit, where I try to make it clearer. Many thanks – Marc.2377 Feb 3 '16 at 16:33
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    @AndrewMartin Sorry about that. One more attempt on my part: Question is "is there a movie aboux X - with X being central to the story?" An objective answer would be either "no, there isn't" or "yes - for example Y". Instead, your answer clings on the definition of X, and then mentions movies where X is a secondary topic. – Marc.2377 Feb 3 '16 at 17:06

The plot of the 1992 film Forever Young starring Mel Gibson involves cryonics:

A 1939 test pilot asks his best friend to use him as a guinea pig for a cryogenics experiment. Daniel McCormick wants to be frozen for a year so that he doesn't have to watch his love lying in a coma. The next thing Daniel knows is that he's been awoken in 1992.

As does that of the 2006 Mike Judge comedy Idiocracy:

Private Joe Bauers, the definition of "average American", is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes five centuries in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.

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    I just realised that your answer may in fact be even more accurate than cde's (which I just accepted). Please bear with me as I research - and possibly watch - the examples you provided over the course of the next days. And of course, thank you – Marc.2377 Feb 4 '16 at 1:50
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    You're welcome. I hope you enjoy the films! – Carl Fink Feb 4 '16 at 7:29

There is an episode of the X-Files where cryopreservation is central to the plot. "Roland" is a season 1 episode. In it, the head of a scientist has been frozen. X-Files hijinks ensue (I can summarize it better, but not sure what would be a spoiler if you're wanting to watch it).

I am aware of no theatrical films that deal with the subject.

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    The question is specifically asking about films, not TV shows. – Catija Feb 3 '16 at 18:03
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    The question has changed since the upvoted answer was submitted. – Catija Feb 3 '16 at 19:18
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    @JohnO: Hi John. What would you like me to change in my answer. – Andrew Martin Feb 3 '16 at 19:20
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    The original question still asks for a movie title, not a long-winded and ill-conceived response about how such a movie would be impossible. There is no movie title, but there is an episode of a tv show. That's my answer. – John O Feb 3 '16 at 19:22
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    @JohnO: I didn't realise my response was "ill-conceived". I'm trying to explain how it cannot be possible, as we don't know what realistic means when it comes to resuscitation. We could answer questions on how realistic a movie from the middle ages was, or a space movie. But not on something we cannot physically yet do. However, if we accept the limitations of what we know to be real, I provided quite a few example - but ultimately, this is increasingly looking like a list question, which is generally off-topic. – Andrew Martin Feb 3 '16 at 19:25

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