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49 Up
49 Up
Actors: Bruce Balden, Jacqueline Bassett, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, John Brisby
Director: Michael Apted
Genres: Documentary
NR     2006     2hr 14min

Starting in 1964 with Seven Up, The UP Series has explored this Jesuit maxim. The original concept was to interview 14 children from diverse backgrounds from all over England, asking them about their lives and their dreams...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Bruce Balden, Jacqueline Bassett, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, John Brisby
Director: Michael Apted
Creators: George Jesse Turner, Kim Horton
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Documentary
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 11/14/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 14min
Screens: Black and White,Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The Skull Beneath the Skin
G. Bestick | Dobbs Ferry, NY USA | 12/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The 7 Up project started in 1963 as a Granada Films documentary about seven year old British children. Director Michael Apted, himself only in his early twenties, set out to explore the British class system by interviewing youngsters from different economic backgrounds. The film's hook was the old Jesuit saying, "Show me the child until seven, and I will show you the man." Remarkably, Apted has gone back every seven years and updated his interviews with the dozen or so children he started with. 49 Up is the latest installment.

If you only watch 49 Up, you'll get enough back story to know who these people are, but the most satisfying approach is to go through the documentaries in the order they were shot. We are voyeurs in the lives of: Andrew, John and Suzie, upper-class kids who knew early on who they were and what they would do; Simon and Paul, abandoned by their mothers and raised in an orphanage; Jackie, Sue and Lynne, working class girls from London's East End; Nick and Neil, middle class kids with an intellectual bent; Tony, a lively, lovable Cockney; and Bruce, who moves up and down the class ladder. The films prove that you can see the man or woman who will emerge in the child of seven. Their personalities are set; all that's unknown are the circumstances under which their lives will play out.

These are ordinary people; the genius of the series is that they become particular enough to us over the course of the films to feel special. We care about them, and what happens to them. At 49, the group seems much happier than they were in the previous two films. Most of them have passed through the trauma of losing their parents, and they've made peace with career successes and setbacks. In general, they now accept who they are; they're not fighting it or struggling to figure it out.

Class plays less of a role in these lives than the filmmakers initially thought it would. Partly that's an accident of timing. 1963, when these children were seven, turned out to be a watershed year in Britain: the old wartime mentality was ending, the Beatles were beginning, and there was a sense of new possibilities in the air. Between the sense of new opportunity and the economic entitlements of the various Labour governments, even the most disadvantaged of these children managed to carve out a reasonable lifestyle. Temperament, more than economics, determined their fates.

Apted has a gift for balancing objectivity about these people (he asks some tough questions) and compassion for them. It they didn't trust him, the series would have ended a long time ago. He doesn't ask a lot of topical or political questions, so the temporal and trivial are stripped away. What's left are moving images of people born in the middle of the twentieth century. Watching them, we learn how they've faced the big issues of being human: dealing with their parents and upbringing; puberty; being open to the possibility of love; mating and breeding; finding their place in the world; the death of near and dear ones. Of course, watching them is like watching ourselves. Learning about them is learning about ourselves. I'm rooting for all of them, and looking forward to seeing how they're faring at fifty six."
Reality TV years before the genre was given a name!
Steven I. Ramm | Phila, PA USA | 10/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I started watching Michael Apted's ongoing documentary series in 1971 when Apted's first film (the second in the series, but first directed by Apted) "14 UP" was shown in US theaters. I remember seeing "21 UP" as well but then missed the next series of films until this year when "49 UP" was released.

"Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man," goes a Jesuit proverb, which the 'Up' documentaries quote. At seven year intervals Director Apted revisited 14 children in his native country of Britain. This was early "reality TV" before the concept was given a name. While the children were from so-called "diverse" backgrounds, they were mostly economic diverse rather than ethnically diverse. All but one are Caucasian. What is amazing is that all 14 are still living at age 49 and, though one woman has said that she doesn't wish to continue to participate in the series, all 14 are covered in this most recent chapter of the series.

The most important thing to know is that this film stands on it's own and does not require watching the previous chapters. Director Apted uses enough footage from the prior films to, not only bring you up to date, but to show you immediate similarities to what the "kids" looked like as they grew older. Though I may go back to the films I missed, I didn't feel that it was necessary.

At over 2 hours in length, this is not a short film but it will hold your attention.

As a bonus the DVD adds a 30 minute interview with Director Apted and film critic Roger Ebert. This only adds to the enjoyment of the DVD. Strangely, what sounds like an air conditioner running in the background (or it could be just poor miking) runs through the interview that was recorded in June 2006. This is a minor defect as it's the feature film you will be watching and the sound on that is perfect.

You remember these 14 people long after you watch this film. It'll be another 7 years before the next film is made - (How does Apted keep track of where these folks are over the years?) - and I, for one am anxious to see what road their lives will take by the time it's ready for Apted to film "56 UP".
A powerful illustration of our common human experience
writeon | Western New York | 11/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Perhaps I am especially sentimental about this series because the participants are my age, but when "49 Up" came to a close with scenes from the original film, "Seven Up," I found myself in tears.

It has been suggested that the series was originally intended to illustrate that children born into various social classes were destined to follow a specific course in life. But time has revealed something very different: that money, class, and education are superficial differences, and that all of us are bound by our common human experience. Every one of the participants has dealt with some sort of adversity -- the death of parents, divorce, illness, depression, loss of a job -- but has persevered with the love and support of family and friends. We learn about their joys, too -- the arrival of grandchildren, a new love, a new career.

Another reviewer commented that time has not been kind to most of the participants from a physical standpoint. No doubt a young person wrote that! Yes, many folks our age (including me) have put on some extra pounds, lost hair or gone grayer, or developed a few wrinkles. But I find their faces kinder and wiser and more beautiful, even more so when those who are married reaffirm their love for one another and talk about how their spouses have helped them through the hard times.

One thing that impresses me is that all of the subjects are good people -- not perfect, not immune from taking a wrong turn once in a while, but trying hard to do the right thing in life. I am so proud of all of them and can hardly wait seven years to find out how they have fared since I saw them last.

There are challenges ahead for Michael Apted and his crew. Clearly it is becoming more difficult for some of the participants to find their lives under scrutiny every seven years, for a couple of them suggested that "49 Up" will be their last film. At the same time, the sheer volume of footage will make it increasingly difficult to bring viewers up to date on each participant every seven years while including flashbacks from the previous films. (Even now, "49 Up" probably will not be as meaningful to those who have not seen the earlier films.)

But the series is historic, of deep and timeless value, and one of the most moving documentaries I have ever seen. I hope it will continue, but if some of the participants find later that they can't continue, nonetheless, in the first seven films they have given us an incomparable gift."
56 Up and more, Please!
K. M. Pollard | San Diego, CA USA | 11/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I can't recall my introduction to the Up series, like the participants age is catching up with me. But I have followed the series religiously and was dismayed when rumors circulated that 42 Up would be the last installment. Recently, while reading news from Australia online, I was delighted to learn that Neil (Hughes) was to be a guest speaker at the Annual Conference of the Municipal Association of Victoria (Australia). At 50 he was still going strong, now a local councilor in Eden District in northern England. And the local Victorian government had invited him to speak because they viewed him as a model to those toying with the idea of politics and public life. I thought I would chase down the 42 Up DVD and reacquaint myself with the series,.....and there it was 49 Up!

There is a voyeuristic aspect in viewing the Up series. But it is more than that; it is more than an obsessive recording of the lives of 14 individuals. As Roger Ebert notes in the accompanying interview of Michael Apted, many of us have grown up alongside these people and so the Up series is a chance for us to reflect on our own lives. I know of no other medium that allows such a personal examination of a single generation. A generation that, although it is the tail end of the baby boom, is none the less significant for the period it has covered. True, Apted is careful not to question too deeply about politics and world events, and this is as it should be. What is important (for the viewer to retain interest) is how the lives of these people progresses in terms of family, relationships, occupations etc - the stuff of everyday life. Whether political, economic, or world events influence their lives is less important; although in some cases this does occur and has been used by at least one participant to leverage a personal interest.

Many, if not all, the participants seem to view their involvement as a stressful event every seven years, a poison pill. It seems from 49 Up that at least one and perhaps more may not return for 56 Up. This would be unfortunate as 49 Up showed that most had reached a comfortable plateau in their lives, and one imagines that in the next seven years many will become even more comfortable within themselves and relish the opportunity to reflect back on life. Others are sure to be less comfortable with that. One thing is certain, we (the viewers) should feel privileged that these individuals allow us the opportunity to invade their lives every seven years.