Title: 56 Up
Release Date: 14 May 2012
Director: Michael Apted
Production Co: ITV Studios
Country: United Kingdom
Seven years ago, my wife and watched a box set of the first 6 movies in the Up Series, then went to a local art moviehouse to see the then current release 49 Up. In about a week of binge-watching we became acquainted with the lives of 14 individuals from England who since they were seven years old have had their lives documented every seven years. We’ve been eager to catch up with these participants and finally were able to watch the most recent installment.
The original tv special in 1964 was almost socialist in its approach, attempting to define how the rigid British class system is ingrained in children at the age of 7. Since then, it’s become more of a humanist document of the life of the everyman and everywoman. Each film seems to have an overarching theme depending on the age – such as education, love and marriage, work, children, aging, parents dying, etc. 56 Up seems to find the participants in a reflective mode, looking back over their lives and their participation in the experiment.
One problem with this film is that so much footage has accrued from the previous seven documentaries that the interviews do not seem as rich this time around as they have been earlier in the series. This is a problems that’s only going to get worse and new movies are made. One of my favorite parts is when two participants Suzy and Nick are interviewed together. I had not really seen a connection between the two before, and what really made it fascinating is when they asked one another questions. I hope they try this again with some other participants in the next film.
As a viewer, I’ve grown very attached to the participants in the Up Series. It is good to see that despite some of them encountering difficulties with the Great Recession and austerity, that overall they seem to be successful and happy in their own ways. I do worry about them getting older, and maybe some of them not surviving for future films, but once again will eagerly wait for 63 Up.