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Walter: Lessons From the World’s Oldest People

2013
Distributed by Janson Media, 88 Semmons Road, Harrington Park, NJ 07640; 201-784-8488
Produced by Sarah E. Hall, Marcos Rodriguez, Charles J. Akin, Nada Abdulla
Directed by Hunter Weeks
DVD, color, 54 min.
General Adult
Anthropology, Aging


Reviewed by Linda Yau, Bronx Community College Library, Bronx, NY

Recommended with reservations   
 
Date Entered: 7/18/2014

The title, Walter: Lessons From the World’s People offers a clue to the subject of this documentary. This film has segments with five supercenterians. A supercentenarian is someone 110 years or older. At the time of production, the “super” are people who were born in the 1800s and the documentary lists seven still living supercentenarians in 2013.

A merit of this film is hearing the testimonies of those that have lived past 110 years of age. Listening to commentary from those who live around these people, seeing their celebrations and how happy people generally are because of their longevity ultimately creates a feel good effect. Another strong point of this DVD are the extras. There is the original interview with Walter Breunning, interviews with Dr. Nidhi Gulati, a health professional’s opinion about how to live longer, and an interview with Robert Young, an expert on how the Guinness World Records group assesses the award for the longest living human. This documentary is filmed in color with occasional supercentenarian quotes that sum up the life lessons learned.

There are a couple of weaknesses in this film that shouldn’t be ignored. One is that the focus of this documentary ultimately leads back to director and producer of the film. It is highly optimistic for them to begin a new life by seeking various life lessons from older more experienced humans. The documentary often feels like a vanity piece to showcase the couple’s own journey. Another weakness is the obvious time stamp on this DVD, the interviewees in this film ultimately pass away, and watching it in future years will give it a dated feeling.

An interesting point to note is that Walter made an attempt to be eligible for an Academy Awards nomination with a successful Kickstarter run. Ultimately this film is suitable to be owned in a public library’s collection, since it can satisfy public interests, but on a scholarly basis, the weaknesses keep it from being a recommended purchase for academic libraries.