Back in 1964, director Paul Almond made a short TV special titled SEVEN UP, which took a look at a dozen different kids and how they differ from one another. Seven years later, filmmaker Michael Apted took over and decided to check in with the kids every seven years. Starting in 1985 with 28UP, the films started showing theatrically, and now have become a sort of event amongst Documentary nuts. In fact, it has been voted as the best Documentary series by many organizations. Now, I haven’t seen any of them, so I decided to watch at least one of them. I chose to watch 28UP (which makes sense, since I will be reviewing that anyway for our 1985 podcast). I really enjoyed it. And after viewing that, I immediately threw in my screener for 56UP.
Just like the others in the series, this latest entry shows just what all of the subjects have been up to in the past 7 years. But don’t worry, if you haven’t seen all of them (which I haven’t) they catch you up on what has happened. And also just like the others, they integrate footage from all of the other previous films into what is currently happening. I think this approach is really effective, as it shows how one can change in just a few years. For example, in 21UP, Susan says she would never have kids, and then it cuts to footage when she is 28 and has a baby. The series constantly does that sort of thing, and I love it.
But I’m reviewing this one in particular, right? How is it? Well, since I’ve only seen one other, I don’t have much to compare it too. But I’m going to guess if you loved the series so far, then you’ll love this too. Me? I liked it at least as much as 28UP. What I think is so great about this movie is that none of these people are extraordinary. They are all normal people, but yet it was fascinating to watch them. I honestly thought these movies would be a chore to sit through, but I found them to be surprisingly easy to swallow. They really fly by, and this was nearly two and a half hours. It certainly didn’t feel like it. Every time they were done catching up with one person, I was eagerly waiting to find out what the next person was up to.
I’m not going to go into any detail on how everyone’s life is going because for me, that was part of the fun…. not knowing what they were up to. I will say some highlights for me was the return of Peter, who left after 28UP. It was really interesting to see how he changed over the years. Same thing with Neil. I thought it was really cool to see Susan and Nick discuss and debate over the positives and the negatives of the series. And since everyone has been doing this series for so long, there seems to be a certain comfort that the subjects have with director Michael Apted. They seem to be more candid this time around, which makes for a more interesting movie.
For me, I think the best thing about this movie (and 28UP) is that it forces the viewer to think about their own lives. What have you done in the past seven years? What were you like 14 years ago? Where do you think you’ll be in another 7 years? It’s kind of an awakening experience.
Now, after watching 28UP and 56UP, I definitely want to go back and watch the others. It’s just a slice of life from 12 ordinary individuals, but the movie is anything but ordinary. It’s a class act. The only negative thing I could say about the movie is that I would probably place the order in which the subjects are placed differently, but apart from that, this is a great Documentary. I can’t wait to see 63UP! ★★★½ (out of ★★★★)
– Not rated, but I don’t think it had any F-bombs in it. Can’t remember…..
– Running time: 2hrs 23min.