Morrie and Betty Markoff, in a still image from the film


Aging and renewal

The trailer for a new project by film professor Sonja Bertucci opens with a stunning question asked in voiceover: “Did I ever think I’d be 100?” The speaker, centenarian Betty Markoff, continues, “I don’t believe it now. I don’t think anyone thinks of being 100. And the two of us?”

Markoff is referring to herself and her husband, Morrie. Their 79-year union gives the film its title: The Diamond Couple. Bertucci filmed as they embraced their stage of life with remarkable resilience and vitality. The resulting documentary has been called “a meditation on the power of memory [that] offers a vision of aging and love that emphasizes not loss, but the capacity to renew an attachment to life with each instant that passes.”

The film premiered at the Arizona International Film Festival in April, where it received the Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking.

Morrie’s preservation of their memories together after Betty’s death in 2019 at age 103 are at the heart of the film. In her director’s statement, Bertucci calls the eventual loss of life partners “an almost unbearable thought, and at the same time, a cosmological certainty.” Her films, she continues, “often confront this inevitable disappearance but without a sense of overwhelming melancholy.”

In place of melancholy, she offers this film as “a gesture of hope that we can regain or restore our connection to the past” and “diversify ... the way in which we relate to that which is gone.”

Morrie and Betty were born in 1914 and 1916, respectively. In 2024, Morrie became the oldest living man in the United States.