Film Review: 56 UP

Directed by Michael Apted

Beginning in 1964, Apted, then the assistant to the director, began filming the lives of a group of seven year olds in the U.K. They came from various stratum of society. 7 UP was the first and we have now arrived at the ripe old age of 56 UP. The idea was to test the Jesuit belief that a child of seven has already formed the traits and disposition that will take him through life. (“Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man “) And in England, class rears its head along with race, genetics, luck, etc. By now, the audience for this film has invested quite a bit in these sagas too.

Admirably, none of the group has completely fallen out as you might expect given the time frame. But equally none has risen above his station-gone on to defy the Jesuit belief that is. Some of the stories are sadder than we might like to hear. The priggish subjects have only gotten more priggish, in fact. Sadly, although the film is made flawlessly, with a lot of incorporation of earlier information, there is a stasis here that is enervating. What most of them said at 42, they are still saying at 56. Divorces come, job loss reflects the hard times we live in, children disappoint, but these people are a pretty dull bunch. I am not sure I have it in me to see 63 UP. Recommended for its craft but perhaps not its subject matter if that doesn’t sound too cruel.

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