56 Up Reviews
January 27, 2013
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.
December 20, 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.
March 3, 2013
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)
November 3, 2013
I am so glad I finally got to watch this. I realise most of the participants don't really like being a part if this any more (if they ever did), but I still find it fascinating.
I also was left thinking two of the participants had married each other for a moment. That would have been interesting.
October 13, 2014
Magnificent and there's nothing really complicated about it. It's just interviews with people as they grow older.
July 3, 2013
Exceptionally boring, but perhaps that's just how it goes in one's 50's? Anyway, Neil is still alive, and that's always a genuine relief.
March 20, 2013
This is a very interesting series. A truly unique film-making effort over many years. The life stories of the participants are each illuminating in their own special way. The original idea of following a group of children from the extremes of the British society is intriguing. Some of the common assumptions about socio-economic class are played out.
Through out this series, it seems virtually all of the participants say that they don't like being in the films. They probably accurately observe that the films only show a very short snap shot of their lives. The short film segments can not fully show who they really are. But, even these short, periodic views are instructive and revealing. I suspect there is a universality here that viewers can relate to.
The training and acculturation a child receives early in life does tend to stick with them. But, this series also shows the strong influence of individual temperament, values, energy, and interests. We might also infer that individual native intelligence plays a role in what path an individual chooses. Also, we see the effect of poor health, accidents, and mental/emotional health. These factors are unpredictable.
Some characters from both social groups show some awkwardness in dealing with the opposite sex. This innate difficulty of each individual plays itself out in a similar manner across the economic spectrum.
Several of the less economically advantaged subjects have built very satisfying and happy lives for themselves. This was not surprising. But, it is good to have this fact documented by this film series. An advanced academic education is not central to living a happy life.
The individuals who appear to be emotionally healthy also seem to be the best adjusted to the difficulties of life. Consequently, these people are the most contented and happy with their lives.
A farmer's son goes on to academic research and instruction. He has two brothers who remain in the local area. One is deaf. He comments that a person said he was surprised at his intelligence associated with his accent. That illustrates the limited comprehension some people have about members of another social group. This same man divorces an attractive, but guarded woman, who refuses to participate in the series after seeing herself on film. He is one of the most open/accessible characters. He later marries another attractive woman who appears to be as open and well adjusted as himself. I think this illustrates the value of an emotionally healthy spouse or significant other.
The awkwardness of juveniles at ages 14, 21, and somewhat less at age 28 is documented. This common characteristic of young people is well known across cultures and time. But, some people never manage to get past this stage of social development.
The one character who clearly struggles with his emotional health is inspiring. He appears happy and well adjusted as a young boy. Later, he seems clearly emotionally unstable. He keeps plugging away, moving forward. By his self reporting, he seems to have lived his life essentially alone. This, by itself, can be difficult. But, the man keeps putting one foot ahead of another. He manages to find satisfying activities for his life. He is an intelligent man. And, his intellect seems to aid his struggles to find some meaning in his life.
One upper class character marries a woman without an advanced education. They raise some children and seem very well suited to one another. We can only guess what makes this relationship work. But, again, they both seem to be emotionally healthy. This fact seems critical.
In 56 Up, we note that many of these British subjects have become obese. Balanced weight or over-weight seems to be a cultural norm in some countries. Obesity is still rare in Asian countries and France. This is somewhat difficult to understand. Everyone knows the multiple dangers of obesity. But, on the other hand, everyone also knows the dangers of smoking, illegal schedule one drugs, and excessive alcohol consumption. And still, many people continue to chase the questionable pleasures of the above. Since this behavior is not rational; we can only chalk it up to culture and temperament. No matter the health effects, some people are going to do what they want to do.
And finally, we see importance of the well-known adages of good health and sufficient income. If a person is relatively healthy, and has enough income, there is a base upon which to build and live a satisfying life.
May 7, 2014
Well, perhaps the most interesting thing to be discovered here is that people just don't change too much between age 49 and age 56. However, that makes this latest instalment in the incredibly long running 7 Up series (that tracks the same 12 or so British children drawn from different socioeconomic backgrounds across time, checking in every seven years) somewhat anti-climactic. After all, we've been waiting 7 years for this one! The only real surprise is that Peter returns after being absent since 28 Up. Of course, everyone does look older and their kids have grown up. Some have been affected by the global economic crisis and the UK's response. A few comment on the ways that they've been portrayed in previous episodes and their response to the public's response (basically, no one feels that they've been accurately portrayed as whole human beings). A few people challenge the idea of economic determinism that guided the original program's design (although it feels fairly apparent that SES status does affect opportunities in this small sample). As always, the really impressive thing about this series is the way that it gets you to think about your own life and your particular developmental trajectory and the societal changes that impact on it. So, where was I in 1974, 1981, 1988, 1995, 2002, and 2009? Turns out that that could be some very interesting television. I bet it is the same for you. I wonder if we will see the same continuity present if and when the series returns in 2019.
March 12, 2014
Epic 1 second everyday.
January 17, 2014
Refreshing documentary that follows a group of people from when they were 7 until now (56). It causes the viewer some introspection as they view someone else progress and talk about the hopes they had and the hopes they lost.
December 12, 2013
amazing! Brilliant! what a commitment!
December 5, 2013
Interesting...well, sort of. Unremarkable lives, unremarkable film.
December 4, 2013
An absolutely marvelous look at a pocket of society through the eyes of very different people over time. Its a true movie based on research and scientific methodology with a completely human element that absorbs you into the life of characters that you can personalize. Its a true reflection of our western society and the passage of time.
November 30, 2012
Will it open in Stamford????? I bought the DVD...
November 30, 2013
I'm always so curious to see what these 14 have to say,
November 8, 2013
The ambitious premise of following the lives of 14 people over 49 years is a very clever idea and has been executed well. It has made me reflect on my own life and where it might lead. If anything, it's interesting just to see how people age and change over time.
October 9, 2013
A great series continues to excel!
September 20, 2013
Well, I don't like the fact that I have to allow Rotten Tomatoes to post to my timeline 'on my behalf' in order to rate this. Oh well, and I suppose that's indicative of an important point in all our lives - freedom of choice and not being forced to do something if we don't want to do it. Freedom, control, aspirations, ambitions, emotions, philosophy - we see all these things worked out or pondered by various players in this saga of life events. I remember when I was in my early twenties and saw the first one of these back in the day. What I was thinking then about life and social stratification (I saw it in one of my Sociology classes) was, of course, instrumental in how I progressed in life. Did I like being the underdog? Was I every really an underdog? How did my family background help or hinder me? Of course, as a few other commenters noted - we think about our own journey as we revisit the journey of the 56UP crowd. Boy, I hope I can figure this life out... 56UP did a great job of helping me along the way. Fascinating and very worthwhile documentary.
November 19, 2012
Personally, I would strongly suggest watching the films in order. While "56 Up" does provide some recaps, the cumulative effect of the series is built by watching each age in depth. The greatest Documentary series of film all time.
August 3, 2013
I agree with this review:
"What started as a crafty way of looking at the U.K.'s rigid class structure has grown into a portrait of melancholy middle age, with its heartbreaks and minor-key triumphs."