Michael Apted has had a long and successful career as a director. His credits have included such upper-middle-brow works as GORILLAS IN THE MIST and ENIGMA, and such popular works as a Bond movie and COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER. His most fascinating work has been on 1963's 7 UP, for which he was a researcher, and its sequels. Every seven years since the original show, Apted has interviewed and directed the same collection of ordinary Britons from all backgrounds.
Partly a survey of contemporary British life, partly a work of sociology, but mostly an album of snapshots, they offer the viewer a fascinating look at how lives diverge and snake around each other: an upper class boy whose life has followed the expectations he had at seven. A farm boy who became a nuclear physicist; girls who grew up to be mothers and grandmothers and are now dealing with death. I have been following this since they were twenty-one, and have looked at all of them on DVD. Everyone has a story, unique and commonplace at the same time, some happy, some sad, some mixed.
The eighth in the series has finally made its appearance in the US on the movie screen, and I don't know how to describe it to you. All I know is that it is utterly fascinating, both as a portrait of British society and of individuals trying to cope with sporadic celebrity. I don't know how much longer Mr. Apted will be able to continue to do these shows -- he is 72 himself -- but I will continue to look at them as long as he and his collection of subjects continue to make them and I urge you to take a look.
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