Tuesday, May 29, 2007

up, up and away

"Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man."
this jesuit saying is the foundation for "7 Up" and its aptly* named successors. the 'up series' is an incredible documentary series that began in 1963. over the years I remember running across a few of the installments, either on public television or at a film festival; however, I never tuned in or attended one to see first hand what was up; in retrospect I realize choosing to skip the film was my loss. a few weeks ago the topic of these films came up when we were talking about favorite film experiences. mariel, one of my movie buds, and a passionate and long-time social observer and political activist, remarked that she first saw one of the films in the series years and years ago and was immediately hooked on filmmaker michael apted creative vision and mission. she was so delighted that now that she's signed up with netflix, she's been able to catch up on the years she missed. all it took was mariel's recommendation and I was on it - we aren't signed up with netflix but I thought if netflix carries the dvds then our wonderful library system might also carry it. after I returned home from my movie night outing, I checked out the cleveland public library webpage and found that of course they carried it! I placed a hold and last week a boxed set containing the first six installments came in.

at first I was a bit intimidated the box contained 5 dvds and advertised that the series ran over 500 minutes. geez, that's a lot of tube time; but the films were here and mariel did say they were great and the concept does seem right up my alley on so many levels! so I thought let's go for it, on wednesday night after dinner, I asked my husband if he was up for checking out the films. at first he was a little reluctant when I explained to him what the films were about, imagining a big yawn, I'm sure. but he's a good sport and said he'd give it a try, after all if he didn't like it he could pull out his book or go off to another part of the house. however, his hesitation melted away; in pretty quick order both of us were mesmerized by the life stories unfolding before us. for the next three nights we followed 14 british school children from when they were seven up through age 42. these kids are in the same generational cohort as both my husband and myself, so in addition to being captivated by their stories we could also identify with generation-specific 'issues' and fashions.

as I mentioned the project began in 1963. in '7 up' we meet twenty-two children from different educational, geographical and social class situations and are told that the filmmakers intend to talk to these children at age 7 so we can learn of the type of people they will be in 2000. the project initially was to be a one-time film, however, michael apted, one of the assistants from the first film, decided to follow these kids and actually test out that jesuit maxim about 'give me a child at seven.' twenty-two children are a lot of kids to follow and by the next film, we find that apted culled the group down to fourteen - ten boys and four girls, of this group, six kids could be considered as coming from the 'working class, four from the suburban middle-class, and four from the privileged upper-class. the sociological and cultural analysis and accomplishment of this bit of documentary film making is quite amazing. after watching the first six films, we were left wanting to know what's next - fortunately for us, there is still one more -- '49 Up' and the library carries it. sunday morning the hold went in and in a week or two we will be once more checking in and seeing what's up!

*pun intended!!

1 comment:

Ms. Mamma said...

This is very interesting, especially to me, the single mom of three year old boy. I'm gonna have to find it.