The DVD’s cover explains it: “In 1964 a group of seven year old children were interviewed for the documentary ‘Seven Up.’ They’ve been filmed every seven years since.”
Absolutely fascinating. Don’t we all know someone whose parents had photo’s of them taken every year on their birthday and then framed along the dining room wall in progression. You don’t have to even know the person to be completely intrigued by the physical growth, the change in appearance. There’s something about someone else’s growth that speaks to us about our own. Perhaps it’s because we are all bound to the same clock, bound to face similar life challenges and choices.
49 Up goes farther and deeper than just photos. It hosts candid interviews with its subjects. The first in the series certainly may have been much more interested in social change regarding a then British class system. For that reason, more or less half the kids were chosen from the upper rich class, while the other half from the poorer side of town.
Nearly everything about this documentary is interesting, but what strikes even more intriguing is that, despite their involvement, every one of the subjects reports that their involvement in the series is difficult, painful. One says, every seven years I have to swallow “the pill of pain.” Yet, save for only one, they each do appear every seven years, and they appear to be quite candid. As a viewer, I feel privileged to be able peer into their private lives perchance to learn something useful about my private life. And probably that’s what makes this documentary so important – it attempts to provide as clear, as unbiased, as uncluttered a portrait of what it is to be a human person in the snapshot of time 1964-2006. There’s a hypnotic connection with humanity here.
This review is based on screening the DVD 49 Up. I watched it an hour at a time over the course of two days. Because of its serial look at these individuals rather than dramatic build, I’d recommend splitting it like that. Included in the bonus features is a Roger Ebert interview with director Michael Apted. It’s quite interesting, though just a tad long and the audio is horrible. Some other extras are included but they are quite minimal. 49 Up is the 7th in the "Up" series which is available in a box set.
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