Does Who You Are at 7 Determine Who You Are at 63?
December 2, 2019 11:29 AM   Subscribe

 
Ooof. I read this over the weekend, and it made me sadder than I would have expected. It somehow never occurred to me that 63 would be the last one. I'm hoping that Nick's prognosis isn't as grim as the article hints at. And I have never much liked Apted, but I'm also sad that he seems to be in such decline. I guess this was the inevitable end of a series that traces a bunch of people through their lives: at some point, they're going to start declining, and at some point they're going to start dying. But 63 seems awfully young for that to happen, although I guess the article was more about Apted, who is considerably older than the participants.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:43 AM on December 2 [6 favorites]


I hope Neil is okay. His has always been the most heartbreaking story, for me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:49 AM on December 2 [2 favorites]


Thanks for a thoughtful and interesting article. The program is a lot more engaging than the original concept. (Buñuel? Seriously?) I haven't seen the most recent one yet, but I'm also hoping Neil is happy. Jackie is clearly a bad-ass and someone I want to hang out with. That's not a surprise, but comforting.

As a kid who grew up in the US in the '80s, my take-away on originally watching the first five was astonishment at just how awesome life was for the working class kids in England. I'm happy for them, but I suspect that's exactly the opposite of what the director intended. (I know a lot of shit happened during exactly the same period that made life worse for working class people in England and I'm fully convinced we should aspire to better.)

As someone whose life isn't terribly different from Nick's, I find the framing given to him in the films kind of obnoxious. The director is going out of his way to make a tragedy out of a pretty great life and one notably rocky marriage. Nick's doing a hell of a lot better than most of my friends and colleagues. Framing his life as a tragedy stings a bit. But, that doesn't mean I won't continue to watch it.

I keep wanting the subjects to aspire to more. But, perhaps that's unfair.
posted by eotvos at 12:36 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]


> I guess the article was more about Apted, who is considerably older than the participants.

Apted has about 14 years on them. Not an immense gap in age but from the article's description of him the time has taken its toll on him.
posted by ardgedee at 12:37 PM on December 2 [5 favorites]


This resonated with me:
Apted, like a social scientist, emphasizes the role of big, obstinate forces; his participants almost invariably take the opposing side of agency and self-determination. What we get, as the show goes on, is an ever-fuller picture of how particular individuals at times shrink to inhabit the givens of an inheritance and at times spill over the sides of those constraints.
When I was younger I assumed I really could do anything I wanted with my life, and any failures to fulfill my dreams would be strictly due to my own personal shortcomings. That's true to a certain extent, but as I near 60 I've become more and more aware of the degree to which our lives are shaped by the familial, societal, geographical, and economic circumstances each of us are born into. I now feel that while each of us has some agency and self-determination, their scope is inevitably limited to some extent by those restrictions. Not that that's a novel idea, of course.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:56 PM on December 2 [31 favorites]


I've watched all of the South African series so far. It's been engrossing, but often really sad. Several kids have died of AIDS, and we haven't even reached 35.
posted by confluency at 1:06 PM on December 2 [5 favorites]


Some years back I was visiting London and had a particularly memorable encounter with a London cabbie. It wasn't until after I'd returned home that I started to wonder...was I crazy, or did he maybe look like Tony?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:11 PM on December 2 [3 favorites]


The same issue featured an interview with Pete Townshend and they were both similarly melancholic, talking with older creators, looking back at the body of work and less about what is still to be produced, considering what was and wasn't accomplished. See also the discussion of The Irishman.

Interesting times as mortality and other factors brings stuff to an end.
posted by stevil at 1:14 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]


Obligatory previously with links to previousliers.
posted by simra at 1:33 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]


I have followed the Up series for as long as they have been shown in the U.S., and have been waiting with bated breath a bit for 63, but now I'm a little apprehensive about seeing it. I did not realize that Lynn had died, although I do recall that she had been diagnosed with a brain tumor or something similar, and I was very sad to learn about Nick's cancer, but Apted's decline was the thing that struck me the most in the article. For years I have sort of thought that they might make it to 70 as a tidy final entry (from 7 to 70), but that seems unlikely now.
posted by briank at 2:17 PM on December 2


Little e is seven, and this really hit me hard today:

To spend time with a child is to dwell under the terms of an uneasy truce between the possibility of the present and the inevitability of the future. Our deepest hope for the children we love is that they will enjoy the liberties of an open-ended destiny, that their desires will be given the free play they deserve, that the circumstances of their birth and upbringing will be felt as opportunities rather than encumbrances; our greatest fear is that they will feel thwarted by forces beyond their control. At the same time, we can’t help poring over their faces and gestures for any signals of eventuality — the trace hints and betrayals of what will emerge in time as their character, their plot, their fate. And what we project forward for the children in our midst can rarely be disentangled from what we project backward for ourselves.

Thanks for sharing.
posted by eirias at 2:28 PM on December 2 [16 favorites]


They also strike me as an inspired, even noble, use of the film medium. No other art form can capture so well the look in an eye, the feeling in an expression, the thoughts that go unspoken between the words. To look at these films, as I have every seven years, is to meditate on the astonishing fact that man is the only animal that knows it lives in time.—Roger Ebert.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:30 PM on December 2 [8 favorites]


I've watched all of the South African series so far.
Somehow I missed this entirely. Thanks!
posted by eotvos at 8:05 AM on December 6


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