'56 Up' - Movie Review

In 1964, Granada Television had a movie made called "Seven Up!" with a view to showing the children who would be leading the world in the year 2000. Michael Apted revisited those children when they were 14, and has continued to do so every seven years, resulting in one of the worlds' longest running and most interesting documentary series. I've followed it since "28 up," and always been fascinated by it as they're all eight years older than me, and give a window into what my life may be like in a few years - although it's also giving me a view of people in Britain, and I'm definitely not British.

I think for me a part of the pleasure of these movies was that they were showing me people somewhat older than me - and I was seeing, every time, that life was still getting better. But that's finally reached a turning point for some of them: poor health and the British economy has effected several of them rather badly (including the librarian, Lynn). But on the plus side, both my favourites - Nick and Suzy - returned, although Suzy had stated in "49 Up" that she thought she wouldn't. Both intelligent, charming people that I'd like to know, who seem to be getting on well with life.

In the previous movie there was some discussion of the notoriety all of them had required as a result of the series - they're frequently recognized, despite their only celebrity being this one series. And of course it affects their lives - quite strongly. I suspect this is also detracting from my enjoyment of the series, although it's totally unavoidable. Another thing that came up a lot was how people seem to think they know the participants, although our window into their life is hearing them talk for ten minutes once every seven years. It's a well-taken point - but again, discussion of that (although legitimate) takes away from time hearing about their actual life.

The end product is, for the first time, one I enjoyed less than its predecessor. Still a good and fascinating movie, and a project I hope he continues (although Apted himself is, as I write, 74 years old).