The Up Series

Until this semester the only kind of documentaries I had seen were about nature. As a kid I loved watching them, but as I have grown up my attitude toward documentaries is similar to what I think most people think of them, not interesting, non-fiction bore session with know-it-all people talking about the events of various subjects and they seem to go on and on and on. But, my attitude all changed during my (Cine 110) The Non-fiction film class. We have watched some amazing footage; also the films have captured my attention and held it. Not only has my fascination helped me be engaged in class, but I also have watched similar documentaries outside of class. Most recently we watched 49 up from Michael Apted’s Up Series. Here is a little background info…

“The series started in 1964, when ITV, the independent U.K. television station, decided to air a 40 minute documentary called Seven Up, made by Granada Television (which was formed in 1956- the year all the subjects were born, for their show World in Action. It was directed by a Canadian, Paul Almond, and brought together the fourteen children for the first time in their lives, to see what the future of Britain in 2000 would hold, claiming, ‘the shop steward and the executive of 2000 are now seven years old.’ All the kids were born in 1956 or 1957, and the program made an effort to get a cross-section of the population, yet skewed to highlight its left wing assumptions, for it was an undisguised social polemic, even though it would morph into a nonpareil sociological study. The children came from differing backgrounds. There were four rich children – three boarding school boys (blond, stuffy John Brisby, fey brunet Andrew Brackfield, and cute brunet Charles Furneaux) and a girl from a wealthy family (snobby Suzy Dewey); two boys from a children’s home (black Simon Basterfield- although in later films billed as Symon, not Simon, and white introverted Paul Kligerman); four children from the poor working class East End of London- a boy (short, outgoing jockey wannabe Tony Walker) and three would-be lifelong girlfriends (blond ugly duckling Jackie Bassett, quiet, short Lynn Johnson, and tall pretty brunet Sue Sullivan); two middle class boys from Liverpool suburbs (outgoing, bright Neil Hughes, and average Peter Davies); and two ‘wildcard’ kids, who would turn out to be the most self-fulfilled of the fourteen. The first was an upper middle class sensitive blond boy whose father abandoned him to the English boarding school system, and wanted to be a missionary when young- Bruce Balden. The last was the only one from the English countryside- Nick Hitchon, who had a bit of a glow about him from even the first film.”

I loved 49 Up and am anxious to see the entire series from the beginning, with 56 Up in the not too distant future, I think I might have some time. I strongly suggest these documentaries as they are a unique project of Apted’s who is very generous to share with us. They are a “Beautiful ode to life, and celebration of getting older and wiser.” -me

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