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The Up Series.
February 1, 2007 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Back in 1964, a documentary was commissioned by Granada Television called Seven Up!, which aimed to test the old Jesuit maxim “Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man” by studying the lives of a group of children from various backgrounds to see how their lives would develop. Every seven years thereafter, director Michael Apted has returned to see where their lives have taken them, in a series of films known as The Up Series. You can read a great overview of the series here. Some have followed the path expected of them. Others have moved halfway across the world. Some have even set up their own webpage! And others still, like Neil, have found that getting to what may be your calling in life often requires you to take a signifcant detour, as this video from the latest edition, 49 Up, shows.
posted by Effigy2000 (79 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
These really are an amazing series of documentaries but it's very hard to find on DVD, so if you ever get the chance to see them I really reccommend you do.

Also, I did everything I possibly could (Google, tag search etc) to ensure that this wasn't a double. I found some references to it in AskMe but nothing else. Frankly I'm amazed that this hasn't been shown on Metafilter before, which makes me wary that I couldn't find a double. If it turns out it is, however, my apologies.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:20 PM on February 1, 2007


I actually watched a documentary ABOUT this documentary last year sometime. It was absolutely fascinating and I was very intruiged until I forgot all about it.. But now you reminded me, so yay!

I have a vague memory that this was posted on the blue before but I couldn't find anything through google either.
posted by liquorice at 9:29 PM on February 1, 2007


These really are a .....

OK, let me just concur that this is one of the best filmed representations of human life that I have ever seen. Kudos to Effigy2000 for bringing it to MetaFilter's attention.

Does anyone know what happened to Apted's plan to film a similar series of documentaries, one every two years, on marriage in America? The first one, taking the couples up to their wedding day, was shown on PBS a few years ago.

Also, has anyone seen any of the various other national 7 Up franchises? I've heard of Russian and American versions but have never been able to find them in any format.
posted by escabeche at 9:32 PM on February 1, 2007


I thought effigy was going to post seven identical comments as some sort of meta-comment. I'm disappointed.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:44 PM on February 1, 2007


I just watched the series on DVD recently (honestly, it's not that hard to find the First Run Features boxed set, Netflix has it). It's an incredible experience, and I think totally different in feel when compressed into a short period rather than waiting for each one to emerge (as I now, anxiously, await 56 Up). Really unlike the experience of watching any other film I've seen, and this despite (in my opinion) Apted's relatively modest skills as a documentarian. The longitudinal form of the series really forces you to reflect on time and change in your own life as well as the subjects'. Enthusiastically recommended, and I'm looking forward to digging in to these links.

About the "Up in America" and other such documentary series: There was a question on 21 Up in America on AskMe recently. The Wikipedia article on the series has a bit of information on the other series, but I have no firsthand knowledge to share on them.
posted by RogerB at 9:47 PM on February 1, 2007


Wow, can't believe that this hasn't hit the blue before -- great post.
posted by dreamsign at 9:58 PM on February 1, 2007


The triple post I made up thread was an accident, a result of what I think is some kind of disagreement my work server and the Metafilter server have on occassion. In such circumstances I usually ask Jess to delete two of them, and I've done so now, but she's obviously not gotten round to it yet. I expect they'll be deleted soon.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:04 PM on February 1, 2007


give me the comment until it's posted, and I will give you the next two.

seriously, I love these movies.

"folks from the town want to live in the country, and folks from the country might want to live in the tooon!"

"what if I dont like greens? well I dont"

and so forth.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:07 PM on February 1, 2007


Incidentally, while rooting around for reviews of the series, I found Janet Maslin's review of 42 Up. On the whole, I think it's more worth reading than A.O. Scott's review of 49 Up.
posted by RogerB at 10:19 PM on February 1, 2007


Yes indeed, a wonderful series. I remember the scene where Suzy is being interviewed and in the background you can see her dog catching and savaging a rabbit. Two more pages - John Brisby and William 'Nick' Hitchon.
posted by tellurian at 10:20 PM on February 1, 2007


Also: Stuart Klawans on 49 Up (scroll down a bit).
posted by RogerB at 10:32 PM on February 1, 2007


i love this series of documentaries, and am amazed at the duration of it all. thanks for the post.

i also had a similar comment problem last night on a post. i think something's been weird over at the haughey server barn lately. or, more probable, i'm just an idiot.
posted by localhuman at 10:35 PM on February 1, 2007


There was an AskMeFi question related to the series, in which I mentioned the Canadian version (if you will) - Talk 16 and Talk 19.

The UK series desperately needs to come out as a DVD box set. It is really first rate TV, and provides an remarkable contrast with current "reality television" in its empathy and warmth towards its subjects, as well as its pace and intelligence.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:09 PM on February 1, 2007


Incidentally, while rooting around for reviews of the series, I found Janet Maslin's review of 42 Up.

In which, it must be noted, the first two paragraphs are repeated. Has this series got some sort of hold over those who write about it?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:35 PM on February 1, 2007


One of the earliest, and best examples of "reality" entertainment. Great stuff but like most of the genre, it really makes me want to strangle the guy behind the camera.
posted by Manjusri at 11:37 PM on February 1, 2007


Roger Ebert is a big fan of this series (and I worry that Ebert will never write much again, which would be a loss). He has included the series in his great movies collection and has interviewed the director.

Some of his individual reviews of the series:
28 | 35 | 42 | 49
posted by maxwelton at 11:42 PM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those last two links are amazing. Thank you.
posted by RokkitNite at 12:25 AM on February 2, 2007


Poor Neil. For awhile there when I was a teenager I was really worried he wasn't going to make it.
posted by Ritchie at 1:05 AM on February 2, 2007


the old Jesuit maxim “Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man”

Wasn't the original maxim just a ruse to enable a steady supply of seven year old boys to Jesuits?

Sorry, too easy. This was an utterly fascinating series, and a great post! I saw the first, one, 28 and 35, but missed the others. Still haven't located them on DVD anywhere.
posted by psmealey at 2:47 AM on February 2, 2007


Great series!
There is no dutch version to my knowledge
posted by borq at 2:49 AM on February 2, 2007


I fourth all of Effigy2000's triplicate praise :) I remember seeing the first three or four of these as a teenager; my jaw dropped in astonishment at the really posh kid (John, I think) stating that "someone who works on a factory assembly line is earning an enormous wage and could easily afford to send their child to a public school" (that's a private school for those of us not in the UK).

I so vividly remember Neil, in one of the later ones, rocking back and forth as he talked about going mad; such a contrast to the bright-eyed, chirpy little kid. And I missed Charles. I rather liked him.
posted by andraste at 4:28 AM on February 2, 2007


When I was 28, I spent an afternoon watching 7 Up, 14 Up, 21 Up and 28 Up. It totally changed the way I looked at life.

Each successive film blows my mind.

Neil was always my favorite. I'm so happy how things turned out. Long may he rule.

I keep telling people to watch these and they say it all sounds intriguing, then they never get around to it. You can get all of them on Netflix for those in the US. If you haven't seen these, start with 7 Up and work your way forward. Seriously, it will change your life.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:07 AM on February 2, 2007


By the way, I think Michael Apted comes off as quite a dick in these movies, even as he lets the individuals shine through.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:10 AM on February 2, 2007


They're available on DVD here.
posted by Harald74 at 5:30 AM on February 2, 2007


That post didn't turn out well... They're available on DVD here.
posted by Harald74 at 5:31 AM on February 2, 2007


I bought the DVD set on Amazon, so it can't be THAT hard to come by.

I am a HUGE HUGE HUGE fan of these films. I think just about all the criticisms levelled here (and elsewhere) are pretty much spot on: Apted is not a great documentarian, he comes across quite poorly particularly in the earlier films, the participants get more and more cagey, and all that. But...the scope of the films is so much greater than Apted's work, or even the lives of the individuals, that the overall effect of the films is immensely powerful.

I didn't really get that until I bought the DVD set and watched all of them (at that point only up to 42Up) in sequence over the space of a few days. While we wait in real time for seven years to come and go, the magic of the films is born in seeing them all at once, experiencing the ebb and flow of common human lives in the space of a few hours. When I go back now and re-watch the first film, it is almost impossible for me not to weep to think of the struggles that sweet little Neil will endure, or the unexpected journey that Suzy will take.

When 49Up debuted in the US last year, I got to see it in the movie theater -- the first time I have seen any of them as a proper "film" -- and the larger-than-life experience was great, but I think seeing them on the TV screen is the best format.
posted by briank at 5:59 AM on February 2, 2007


Another long time fan, here-- I am exactly the same age as these "children." I saw 21up first and I've been following the series ever since then. There are so many amazing stories in the lifetime of the average person (In the years between 35 and 42, I gave birth to my daughter, bought a house, left my husband of 18 years, and moved 3000 miles to be with a man 11 years younger than myself.

My only problem with the series is the lack of females--he only follows Suzy and the three blue collar ladies (who are always interviewed together.) The show is a little top heavy with upper class males.

I've heard there were other series but I've never seen any of them. Has anyone seen the American version?

I've always thought these interviews would make great instructional videos. You could show 14up to a class of 14 year olds and ask them to guess what happens.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:42 AM on February 2, 2007


I'm a giant fan too--been watching them my whole life (first in school for the first 3), then at the movies from 28). There are torrents around for all of them too, if you look--i revisited all of them after watching 49--such amazing set of documents.

49 disturbed me tho, in ways the others hadn't. They're all old now, and in 42 they weren't (partially, it's because i'm 42 now and have always been almost exactly one step behind them). And it was much more meta, with far more of the content being about doing the movie--instead of being about their lives.

I've worried about Neil, and hated John, and loved Jackie, Lynn, and Sue while hating that they were always treated as a group and not so much as individuals, and admired Bruce because of his overwhelming decency, and am still always perplexed at how the 3 rich boys did end up doing what they knew they would be even at 7. I'm still surprised that Bruce and Paul didn't ever come out. (And Suzy at 21 was on her way to becoming an incredibly interesting person, but seemed to have just given up by 28--it still disappoints me each time i see the cuts from then to now). I really do wish Charles would come back to it, and the teacher guy.

There's one moment in 42 and 49 that they never showed in the others during the Jackie, Lynn, and Sue section--it's them and 2 schoolboys--they're talking about who they love, and one boy hugs the other boy instead of them and says, "I love him!" with a smirk. : >
posted by amberglow at 7:00 AM on February 2, 2007


My only problem with the series is the lack of females--he only follows Suzy and the three blue collar ladies (who are always interviewed together.) The show is a little top heavy with upper class males.

It's important to remember that Apted himself did not make the first film, he was one of the assistants to the producer and "inherited" the project later on.

The original film is very much a product of its times, and the original producer, a fellow named Tim Hewat had a bit of an agenda with regard to class in Britain. The original film directly intended to look at "the leaders of 2000", which, in 1963, meant upper class white males.
posted by briank at 7:02 AM on February 2, 2007


I would love to see what he left on the cutting room floor from each one.
posted by amberglow at 7:04 AM on February 2, 2007


That last link is riveting - can anyone tell me if it's possible to watch just one or two of these and get close to the full experience, given the inherent time constraints of adulthood? Are the earlier films referenced in the later enough that watching the last one or two makes sense?
posted by docpops at 7:18 AM on February 2, 2007


I love these movies! The husband and I do the bit about
"I read the Times and the Obsehvah..."
"What do you like about them?"

I'm waiting to watch 35 Up and while I know that Neil turns out okay, it's so painful to watch him go through his post adolesence. I watch these with an eye on my 7 year old son, wondering what paths he will take and hoping that he will turn out well.
posted by bayliss at 7:21 AM on February 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's still so strange--the overwhelming assurance of most of the rich kids, and the lack of worldly ambitions of the poor ones, but them all having loving families around for the most part while the rich kids were sent away. When Paul and Simon don't even know what the word "university" means at all, and that none of the poorer kids and only 1 of their own kids (in Australia) went--it grabs my heart. I think we in the US see the series very very differently than people in the UK.
posted by amberglow at 7:23 AM on February 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


docpops, it makes sense--there are tons and tons of cuts back and forth in all of them. (I think tho, that watching in real time, is best, but it's not possible. We've grown up watching them grow up.)
posted by amberglow at 7:25 AM on February 2, 2007


By the way, I think Michael Apted comes off as quite a dick in these movies, even as he lets the individuals shine through.

Yeah, Jackie really laid into him on 49 Up on his dickitude.

Great series. My favorites were Nick and Neil, but I also liked John quite a bit.
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:33 AM on February 2, 2007


I was thinking, watching the last link, this ought to be mandatory viewig for every existentially anxious twenty-year old. The arc of a life is never set.
posted by docpops at 7:34 AM on February 2, 2007


Yeah, Jackie really laid into him on 49 Up on his dickitude.
She always kinda has, and we've missed many things about her and her life because that's what Apted decided to show instead of other stuff. With Jackie, it's been about external things (housing, relationships, etc) more than her herself really--I'd be pissed too. Apted also has a weird fascination with health issues and death (35 focuses on them losing their parents and learning about health issues).
posted by amberglow at 7:47 AM on February 2, 2007


Another fan here, just watched 49 Up last weekend. Apted's commentary during 42 Up is really interesting. You find out more about Charles and Peter, both of whom I miss. And he does address the lack of women in the program and his regrets about that.

While we're on the subject, can a Brit explain to this Yank the difference between primary school and comprehensive school? I know one of the three East End girls went to one, and the other two to the other. But I'm not clear on the difference between the two in terms of British society.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 8:51 AM on February 2, 2007


In the 42 Up commentary, Apted also talks about his portrayal of Nick's wife in 35 Up, and how he tried to foreshadow their split, only to have it thrown back in his face when she saw the program and refused to be involved in future filmings.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 8:53 AM on February 2, 2007


...which would only be all the more ironic given the Nick segment of 49Up
posted by briank at 9:16 AM on February 2, 2007


Primary school is the same as elementary school - the first few years of school. The old system was that you did your 11+ exam (at age 11 or thereabouts) and your score determined whether you went to grammar school (academic stream in a very formal setting) or comprehensive school (technical/vocational streaming). Now comprehensive schools are just that - a broad based educational secondary school which includes academic prep for uni. When these kids were going to school though, you didn't have a chance of getting to uni if you didn't ace your 11+ and go to grammar school first.
posted by hannahkitty at 9:19 AM on February 2, 2007


We've only watched the first two so far. Does Suzy (assuming that's the rich girl living off on the manor with a very hungry doggie) stay as remarkably creepy as she is in the first two?
posted by yerfatma at 9:31 AM on February 2, 2007


Does Suzy stay as remarkably creepy as she is in the first two?

No, actually she gets worse in 21, and then much better, and that process is one of the things they talk about a lot in subsequent installments. I love these movies, and I can't decide if I'm sad I don't have that kind of a record of my own life, or extremely grateful. I probably would have been just as creepy an adolescent. Thanks for the great post E2K! (Gotta love Tony's website. Phear his 133t HTML skillz!)
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:20 AM on February 2, 2007


There's also a good interview with Apted about the Up series on KCRW's "The Treatment" (from October).
posted by blucevalo at 10:20 AM on February 2, 2007


Just want to add that as a Northern working class boy gone to University of the same age as those filmed, I never liked it & always found it overlaid with class assumptions, in terms of both upward progress and and downwards nostalgia. I didn't know its source lay in the "future rulers of 2000" but it explains a lot. Still find it almost unwatchable, but as a social document of class in Britain it is fascinating, especially how transparent the limits of class and aspiration the past is revealed by the present.
posted by A189Nut at 10:21 AM on February 2, 2007


I agree with briank. Having seen 49 Up on the big screen (less than three days before the birth of my first child), I think the series works better on a TV. There's a greater sense of intimacy in that format, which is the first time I've ever said that about television.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 11:33 AM on February 2, 2007


We're in the middle of watching this now - 28 Up is sitting at home in the Netflix envelope, probably to be watched this evening.

It's been a very interesting series, and I've really enjoyed seeing the way the various people have changed - some in ways that are expected, others who have gone in ways I never would have guessed.

I'm not even going to click on the 49 Up link above - I don't want any spoilers about where people go. :)
posted by evilangela at 12:03 PM on February 2, 2007


can anyone tell me if it's possible to watch just one or two of these?

docpops, speaking as someone who has not seen them all yet, I think you're cheating yourself if you believe you can just watch one or two. Obviously the later ones incorporate footage from the earlier ones so it's possible to get a sense of someone's life as in the final linked video of Neil. To me, though, that just whets the appetite for watching the entire series in full.

I wouldn't worry about getting to it all at once. Even if you're not seeing them every seven years, a bit of a gap between an episode is probably closer to the way you should experience it.
posted by dhartung at 12:11 PM on February 2, 2007


I credit/blame my introduction to these films when I was in college 15 years ago with some of my current appreciation for reality tv.

I thought it was a little weird in the above link to Neil for 49 up that they didn't talk about the help that was given to him (wasn't it? am I mad?) by one of his __-up classmates. I thought they became friends and he helped Neil get on his feet. But I could be wrong. If I'm right, I thought that was an interesting case of how the medium can influence the outcome (because without the films I think it is unlikely that a classmate would remember him and try to lend him a hand).
posted by onlyconnect at 1:20 PM on February 2, 2007


I thought it was a little weird in the above link to Neil for 49 up that they didn't talk about the help that was given to him (wasn't it? am I mad?) by one of his __-up classmates.

It was Bruce, and the subject comes up briefly in 49 Up. Basically the friendship didn't last very long and they drifted apart shortly after 42 Up.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:51 PM on February 2, 2007


Yup--Bruce--he surprised me the most in 49up, with the return to his roots, sorta, at the prep school. We all burn out tho, i guess.

Suzy, i think, wasn't creepy at all til 28--i feel she gave up on everything, and just decided to follow the path laid out for her after a period of rebellion--marry the proper guy, have babies and settle down. I thought it was weird the way she described it all in 49.

The whole "get Neil some mental health" thing is still very valid--i wonder how being in these things has fed into some of his problems. It has set him apart even more than he would have otherwise been, and i don't think he gets paid for that Councillor stuff even now. (of course, if it had been here, he would have been dead on the street decades and decades ago)
posted by amberglow at 3:38 PM on February 2, 2007


Is the prep school/boarding school thing still big there? I can't imagine sending little kids away like that. (they do ensure that they stay and bond entirely with their own kind, which is not good)
posted by amberglow at 3:40 PM on February 2, 2007


Even if you're not seeing them every seven years, a bit of a gap between an episode is probably closer to the way you should experience it.
I've been sharing my copies, and tell people to watch one a week, and let it sink in inbetween. It must be such a vastly different experience from waiting for them as we have. We cut it more slack in many ways i think, as a film, because we're interested in them as people.
posted by amberglow at 3:42 PM on February 2, 2007


Actually, Bruce and Neil met at a reunion for the film, so they definitely would not have met without it. This is discussed in one of the films.

There's a lot I think about with the films, including when they asked one of the members why he thought he had become the most successful. He said he thought it was simply because he stuck in school and then stuck to his job. There's wisdom in that somewhere.
posted by xammerboy at 3:53 PM on February 2, 2007


was it one of the rich ones, xammer? They really didn't have to work hard at all to get anything--school or job. The old boy network is well much alive and well all over the world--look at our President. I thought that both rich and poor have always been very defensive when those questions come up in each movie.

Email me for the torrent link, anyone who wants.
posted by amberglow at 4:04 PM on February 2, 2007


oh, was Phillip considered a rich kid or middle class? His family had a lot of land.
posted by amberglow at 4:09 PM on February 2, 2007


John, Andrew and Charles were the rich boys. Neill, Peter and Bruce were the middle class boys.
posted by briank at 4:36 PM on February 2, 2007


ahhh. So Phillip isn't classifiable in their system? How would he and Charles' wife (the "good Yorkshire lass" who wasn't "a haughty deb") be spoken of?

I thought Bruce was one of the rich kids--father a colonial or military something or bigwig in Rhodesia, went to only very posh schools, etc.
posted by amberglow at 4:46 PM on February 2, 2007


I wonder about Bruce's mom--was she dead? just divorced?
And Paul's mom, and Simon's mom too --you just get one glimpse and a little about her depressions.
posted by amberglow at 4:48 PM on February 2, 2007


Who is Phillip? There's no Phillip.

And the "good Yorskhire lass" is Andrew's wife, not Charles'.

Even though Bruce was at a public school, it's not one of the elite schools. His parents were divorced and he was raised by his mother and had almost no contact with his father until he was an adult. Compared to the three "rich boys", Bruce was definitely middle class, though perhaps a notch higher than Neil and Peter.

Paul's parents were divorced and he was raised by his father, who moved them to Australia.

I'm not sure if Symon's mother was divorced or unmarried.
posted by briank at 5:52 PM on February 2, 2007


i'm sorry---Nick's who i mean. (long week) He was considered working class? His family owned land--a lot of it. Was it the manual labor thing?

Symon's mom was single--he spoke of being illegitimate.
posted by amberglow at 5:58 PM on February 2, 2007


oh, one more question--GSCEs are High School equivalency things, or college things? (Symon did one in math)
posted by amberglow at 5:59 PM on February 2, 2007


Yes, Nick was meant to represent the rural farming class.
posted by briank at 6:06 PM on February 2, 2007


where does rural farming class fit into upper/middle/lower? or it just didn't?
posted by amberglow at 6:09 PM on February 2, 2007


I wonder whether this is an accurate way to put things too: “plural monoculturalism”—groups that live side by side but do not touch. (being used in the link about immigrants and assimilation in the UK, but applicable maybe to classes also?)
posted by amberglow at 8:52 PM on February 2, 2007


There's a lot I think about with the films, including when they asked one of the members why he thought he had become the most successful. He said he thought it was simply because he stuck in school and then stuck to his job.

Was this Nick, in 21 Up? I remember him being asked how he felt about being a success and he completely laughed it off, saying he was no where near being a "success." I think Apted felt that way because Nick had gone from the one-room country schoolhouse to Oxford to study physic, being the first in his family (I think) to go to uni. Nick was a little more down to earth than that.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 9:18 PM on February 2, 2007


Hannahkitty, thanks for the explanation. And yes, I meant grammar school and not primary school.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 9:19 PM on February 2, 2007


*physics
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 9:20 PM on February 2, 2007


That Nick thing about success became a big deal to Apted, with the end of the fusion stuff, and Apted even showing us Nick saying he wanted to be more famous for his work than the movies, but that he wasn't. (and then you have the nasty portrait of the wife, and the eventual failure of that too)

... But, imagine if this and successor series do continue, and a foundation is set up just to chart representative samples of humanity across cultures and millennia, so that future historians, long removed from earth, can understand how far the species has come, and how much has remained. ...
Wouldn't that be the coolest thing? I know people will be watching these for decades if not centuries--a portrait of these "dark ages" or something.
posted by amberglow at 9:52 PM on February 2, 2007


John's lawfirm webpage (he was involved in BCCI)
posted by amberglow at 9:57 PM on February 2, 2007


GCSEs are (usually) taken at age 16, so they are the last exams a student will take before leaving secondary school. (They replaced the O-Level in the mid-1980s.) Generally they take around 10 in all, and can then progress onto AS and A Levels in a college or Sixth Form if they want to (where "college" in the UK is usually for 16-18 year olds studying before going into the workforce or to university).

Many jobs have a requirement of 5 GSCEs grades A*-C, usually specifically including Maths and English (Language, not Literature).
posted by bent back tulips at 4:49 AM on February 3, 2007


Does Suzy stay as remarkably creepy as she is in the first two?

No, actually she gets worse in 21, and then much better, and that process is one of the things they talk about a lot in subsequent installments.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:20 PM EST on February 2 [

Interesting, because I saw her as a rebellious girl ready to blaze her own path who turns into a dull, conservative home maker who just wants to perpetuate the Upper Class way of life. I wish she had met and married somebody else.

I also felt that Paul's move with his family to Australia was very fortuitous-- he seemed quite happy with the great outdoor life.

Count me as another who thought Bruce was upper class-- oh well I guess I need to watch these docs with a Brit.

Another interesting aspect of the films is the difference in the aging process-- I think it was the bookmobile lady who goes from gorgeous girl to old lady very quickly, while her brunette friend stays so young looking.

Finally as to "viewing one or two" I would watch the 1st and 42up. There is so much from the earlier episodes that sometimes they get overly repetitive. I remember watching the whole series in the space of a week with my husband and that was too dull.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:19 AM on February 3, 2007


thanks, bent.

i'm totally with you on Suzy, Bruce, and Paul, SLOG.
posted by amberglow at 11:28 AM on February 3, 2007


at least Suzy brought up her kids instead of nannies, which is something.
posted by amberglow at 11:30 AM on February 3, 2007


SLoG, I totally get what you're saying, but Suzy at 21 strikes me as someone profoundly uncomfortable in her own skin, and far happier afterward. Her choices in life are certainly not my own, but if they make her happy, and she is, as far as it's possible for me to tell from 10 minutes in a documentary every seven years, then I'm happy for her.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:06 PM on February 3, 2007


One of the most pervasive myths about Britain in recent times has been that of the "classless society". A series of politicians have made great claims of a meritocratic culture, but the recent findings on social mobility dented the credibility of such ideas as it showed how social-economic status at birth was becoming a stronger indicator of your life course than ever. ...
posted by amberglow at 3:35 PM on February 3, 2007


Horace, Suzy herself says in 49 that she's only now become comfortable in her own skin, so that means she doesn't think she has been so previously--whether as the anxious, cynical girl of 21 or the seemingly contented stay-at-home mom of 35. I think she may have swung wildly in search of that comfort, and found it in a sort of synthesis--she's not just a stay-at-home mom but does grief counseling and gives back, and she's not just a sheltered upperclass girl who isn't even bothered by her dog killing the rabbit in 14, and she's not just that 21-year-old at a crossroads who's been trying to find herself.

I think it's also that all the upperclass ones had programmed, planned lives (astoundingly so, to my eyes), and for Suzy, marrying within her class and being a mom was her future. She rebelled as a teen, but then went back to that program by 28. There were no ambitions expressed at 28, beyond seeing the kids grow up. There was no more "her".
posted by amberglow at 3:45 PM on February 3, 2007


I think the Simpsons are doing it tonight!
posted by amberglow at 4:25 PM on February 18, 2007


yup--Springfield Up - Simpsons
Eric Idle provides the voice of a documentary filmmaker who interviewed a group of Springfield schoolchildren 32 years ago and has followed up at eight-year intervals to film how their lives have unfolded.
posted by amberglow at 4:29 PM on February 18, 2007


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