Movie Review: 42 Up

Title: 42 Up
Release Date: July 21, 1998
Director: Michael Apted
Production Company: British Broadcasting Corporation | Granada Television

The 6th installment of The Up Series finds a lot of the participants  in a reflective mood.  Most of them have children and a lot of those children are now past the age of 7 (some are close to adulthood), so the participants see their own well-documented childhoods through the prism of their children.  I feel the editing has improved with the layering of earlier film clips done more effectively.  And Michael Apted is asking better questions, probably because he knows the participants more as people rather than guessing at their futures. I also like the unique conclusion where all of the participants answer the same two questions: 1. what are the effects do class have on society, and 2. how has The Up Series affected their lives.

Charles and Peter continue to decline to participate, and John joins them again. But Symon is back and seems to be happy which makes me happy!  Apart from the updates on the 11 participants, this movie has the greatest reveal in the entire series when we learn that Bruce let Neil stay at his house in London and that Neil participated in Bruce’s wedding ceremony!

Some quick thoughts on each participant at 42:

Tony got caught cheating and the way Debbie rolls her eyes as he dances around the issue with a word salad says a lot.  Other than that, he continues to prosper as a taxi driver, moving into a new house.

Suzy has seemingly lived the most traditionally domestic life and seems happy as a mother to her teenage children despite being cynical about marriage and children when she was younger.  She’s also taken up working as a bereavement councilor which I find very admirable.

Symon divorced his first wife (the main reason he missed 35 Up) but has married again.  His new wife seems lovely and very supportive.  They have a child in addition to Symon’s five children from his first marriage and his new wife’s teenage child.

Bruce is still teaching in the East End, now at Catholic school with a very diverse student body.  He’s also married to Penny and we get to see scenes from their wedding.

Lynn is a school librarian, raising her two daughters, and still close with her husband Ross.  She also reflects on her health concerns, determined not to be scared of death which feels ominous in retrospect.

Sue is divorced but has formed a strong relationship with a new boyfriend Glenn.  She works as an administrator at University of London and sings a terrific rendition of “Superstar” at a pub.

Jackie married again and moved to her husband’s home town in Scotland but they have since divorced.  Jackie is raising three sons as a single mother but her ex and her mother in law are still involved.  She also is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis which will continue to affect her life.

Nick is filmed returning to his home in the Yorkshire Dales.  His father is retiring from farming and none of the sons are taking over so there’s a lot of reflection on the family’s past.

Paul has learned a new trade and seems to be an all around good guy with his wife Susan.  He worries about his children lacking confidence and ambition.

Andrew seems to be satisfied as a parent with his wife Jane, but would never let his kids participate in an Up series.

Neil has returned to London and is serving as a representative on the Hackney London Borough Council fulfilling his dream of going into politics from 21 Up. His bright eyes from Seven Up have returned as he seems in a much better place after getting help from Bruce.

Rating: *****

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: 42 Up

  1. I used to love this series. Inevitably, it was sad to watch as life didn’t quite turn out the way many of the subjects might have hoped. A fair amount of them opted out of the series. I can imagine this getting a reboot soon enough. We’d have quite a lot of eager new volunteers to be lab rats.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually kind of surprised that as of the most recent film, 63 Up, 11 of the 14 participants were still involved with one deceased and only two declining.


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