Friday, February 23, 2007


The Up series

As I drove back from Washington, DC, on Monday, I listened to Philadelphia's NPR station, WHYY, and caught part of their “Radio Times” program. They had an interview with filmmaker Michael Apted:

Michael Apted is a documentary filmmaker and director of feature films and TV shows. His most recent movie is Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce, who was instrumental in ending slavery in the British empire. His film credits include Coalminer's Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist, Gorky Park and the Up series of documentaries, which has followed a group of people from the U.K. from age 7 until last year when they reached 49.

Mr Apted sounds like an interesting man, in general, but it's the “Up” series of documentaries that particularly caught my attention. The blurb above doesn't do the series justice — they're not just a few documentaries. They're a series of seven full-length documentary films made over the course of 42 years, following the same set of subjects at seven-year intervals. That's quite an undertaking! And of the fourteen children who participated at age seven, twelve are still with him at age 49.

The films in the series are these:
Seven Up! (1964)
7 Plus Seven (1970)
21 Up (1977)
28 Up (1985)
35 Up (1991)
42 Up (1998)
49 Up (2005)

It sounds fascinating, and I'll be interested in hearing from anyone who's seen some of them. They were made for British TV, but appear to be available on region 1 DVD (The Up Series has 7 thru 42, and 49 Up is available separately). I've just placed my order....

[You can listen to the interview here.]

1 comment:

nina said...

I've seen a couple of the earlier ones. They are absolutely fascinating. I recommend seeing them all.