56 Up (2013)
Critic Consensus: Director Michael Apted continues to utilize cinema as a window into the lives of everyday people, and in the reflection of this documentary we can glimpse our own aging humanity.
"Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man." 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 for the future. Every seven years, renowned director Michael Apted, a researcher for Seven Up, has been back to talk to them, examining the progression of their lives. (c) First Run Features
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Critic Reviews for 56 Up
This suffers as well from the fact that the subjects' lives haven't changed all that much since 49 Up (2005); perhaps the series will improve yet as they head into old age.
The original documentary was intended to illustrate how the country's deeply ingrained class system inscribed itself on the aspirations and inner lives of its young people. But the successive movies have been far less polemical.
We're now at 56 Up,, and with each passing calendar leap, the experience of watching has only become more soul-stirring.
Yes, on some level it's just a seven-year check-in with people maybe half-remembered, if that. Yet the films also serve as a kind of check-in with us, too.
What ultimately is so compelling about 56 Up is the universality of the experiences. We were all once children. And we all will die. And in between, there is everything else.
Audience Reviews for 56 Up
As fascinating as it can be for many to see the changes in the participants over the years, it can be just as interesting for cineastes to see how the series evolves over time, namely how it has become increasingly self-aware. For example, one person returns to the series after decades away to promote his band while another uses it to continue to promote Bulgarian charities successfully. And I loved the Buzz Aldrin story, by the way.
But what I gained this time around was a profound knowledge of how different Great Britain really is, especially how university education is not necessarily a given over there, unlike here in the States. So, maybe the class system is alive and well in Britain, despite one who protests it was never there in the first place, followed by a scene of a fox hunt.
This time, the politics is less about the subtext, becoming front and center with Michael Apted even calling out one of the participants for some of his objectionable comments. This is all in the wake of the Great Recession which drastically alters some lives at an age where people would be ordinarily starting to look forward to retirement, just as London takes center stage in the world for the Summer Olympics in 2012.
The best of the Michael Apted series thus far mainly because the subjects now have the wisdom of at least half a lifetime and can reflect back on what was said in previous programs with new knowledge of life.
Far more than just a movie 56 UP and the Up series stand alone as one of the most sociological important touchstones of our time. Astounding to see the child-like wonderment give way to harsh reality in most of the children. It gives one pause to reflect on their own life and see how far one has come...or not. This is cinematic perfection. (3-3-13 UT)
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