Friday, February 28, 2020

56 Up

"56 Up" (2012) is part of a  long term project that many would do well to watch.   It started with the idea expressed by a  Jesuit intellect: "Give me the child until seven and I will give you the man."  The execution is unique

Started with children born in 1956 with 14 seven year olds first interviewed in 1963.   We are presented with a variety in terms of class, race, rural and urban and both sexes,

Every seven years the film crew interviewed 14 people they had started with at age 7.  The follow-ups were increasingly interesting so we could follow up their original intentions.  This film takes the viewer to the age of 56.  One participant backed out when he was surprised at how people reacted to some of his youthful political remarks (basically he was unimpressed with Margaret Thatcher), but a few years later he joined back in.   Core personalities seem set at age 7 that carries through to 56--but not totally predicable.

Some were successful including a nuclear physicist, a barrister, school teachers,   One 7 year old who wanted to go to Africa actually volunteered in Bangladesh and became a teacher.  Most married and had children, but many were divorced and a few of them had remarried.  Others pointed out the hard times they had to endure.  The physicist had emigrated to America because there were too few opportunities in England.  One migrated to Australia.  Others unhappy with the economy under Tony Blair.  Some were disappointed, but acknowledged they had made poor choices.  You can trace a progression in maturity. 

The participants go through puberty, marriage, children and grandchildren.  Not everything was smooth, some had divorced, many had parents die and had some concerns with their children.  Economic hard times played a big role for some of them.

Technology progress can be seen as the first shots were in black and white from 1963 and with this version digital cameras gave greater scope.

The original director was Paul Almond, a Canadian, later honored as an officer of the Order of Canada and given a life time Achievement Award by the Canadian Directors Guild.  He directed, produced and wrote for many films winning awards.  He also was a novelist.  Was married three times including with Genevieve Bujold with whom he had a child that carried on film work.  Paul died in 2015.

The co director Michael Apted was credited with two BAFTA awards.  Roger Ebert interviewed Michael and provided some interesting information.   He started with this project as a 22 year old.  One of his most difficult tasks was contacting the interviewees very year as they often had doubts and restrictions which Michael had to talk through respecting their concerns.  Both Roger and Michael agreed that as the project progressed most of the participants seemed to have matured, gotten wiser and overcome lots of obstacles to be happier.  Roger felt that what would add to the value of the project would be to get interviewees just before dying to see what they felt

Michael Apted studied law and history at Cambridge University.  He did do many other documentaries, but also worked on several features.  "Gorillas in the Mist," ""Gorky Park," "Coal Miner's Daughter," "Enigma," and "The World is Not Enough" (1999), a James Bond film.

"63 up" has already been on British television and will likely be released in American theatres. Check out the trailer

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