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56 Up (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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26 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

The Up Series (1963 - 2012 Granada/ ITV UK) Continues With The 56 Up (2012) Show And Old Age Looms Ahead For 1963 Seven Year Olds Now 56!

10/10
Author: David Allen (TexAllen@Rocketmail.Com) from Columbia (Lancaster County) Pennsylvania, USA
16 May 2012

The Up Series (1963 - 2012 Granada UK) continues "56 Up" (2012 Granada UK) is the latest episode in the series and was aired in the UK on May 14, 2012.

Home video DVD's are not yet available for "56 Up" (2012 Granada 2012) from Amazon.Com. It seems there is a delay from the time the newest episode is first aired/ released in the UK and when the USA sees and may purchase it.)

For me, the two most remarkable and worthy persons profiled are Neil Hughes and Bruce Balden, neither married or materially "successful" by the 1991 "35 Up" episode, both badgered about that on camera by the off camera interviewer, both stoic and dignified in the face of the negative evaluation the interviewer provides.

Neither man, Hughes or Balden, led conventional, predictable, profitable, "safe" lives. Both opted for exploration, adventure, and service to and comradeship with socially unprestigious groups and persons.

Both took enormous chances, and must be accounted brave, noble men for that alone. They didn't "play it safe." Both exude an intelligence and a willingness to discuss difficult questions and issues in detail on camera, and neither attack the show they appear on, the thoughtless, implicitly insulting interviewer, or the show's and interviewer's obvious prejudices and agenda for the show itself as a piece of social and political propaganda.

Balden and Hughes use the riveting show as a platform to describe their own lives, ideals, and activities in pursuit of those ideals, activities not supported by outside big money or generous support from family, government, or other sources.

We learn more about the world at the times the episodes are presented (every 7 years starting in 1963.....the most recent one in 2004) from observing and listening to the words and ideas of Bruce Balden and Neil Hughes by far than is true of the other children and adults presented, none of whom departed from the settings where they first appeared at age 7 in 1963.

Neil Hughes and his "marching to the beat of the different drummer" (quote from Americn Utopian writer Henry David Thoreau) seems to me the most impressive of all.

He's become the intrepid explorer he announced he'd be at age 7 when he expressed interest in being an Astronaut or a bus driver....two flavors of explorers.

I'm reminded of the words of poet T. S. Eliot (1888 USA - 1965 UK), the USA born poet who settled in England and got the Nobel Prize in 1948.

He wrote a poem titled East Coker, and words from it include the following:

--------------

"To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not, You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.

In order to arrive at what you do not know You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

In order to possess what you do not possess You must go by the way of dispossession.

In order to arrive at what you are not You must go through the way in which you are not.

And what you do not know is the only thing you know

And what you own is what you do not own

And where you are is where you are not.

----------------------

"Home is where one starts from. As we grow older The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated ------------

"Old men ought to be explorers........"

--------------------------

Everybody should be an explorer, not just old men.

Neil Hughes purposed to be an explorer at age 7, started early, still does it. He could be the star of a long run reality TV Show titled "King Of The Road" using the famous Roger Miller hit song of that title from the 1960's, and his views about dealing with and surviving in spite of unsupportive, unintelligent government and present social organization and conventions in the UK, the USA, Australia, and elsewhere could be solicited and published, his lifestyle and behavior widely (and proudly) imitated.

This may all seem far-fetched (see the Academy Award Winner movie titled Network [1976] to see how big media could set this up....no joke!), but the fact is Neil Hughes has probably learned more about the realities of survival and the likely challenges and problems upcoming which must be survived successfully than most people.

People won't get the truth about big issues they face from the government, big religion, or the conventional commercial mass media, nor will big establishment educational systems either provide answers nor seek them.

Neil Hughes knows what others need to know, and is clearly independent enough to share what he knows, able to survive being despised for his independent and necessarily implicitly critical views.

It's an interesting show, and less spectacular careers and worlds of the children/ adults who traveled different, more predictable and conventional paths than Bruce Balden and Neil Hughes are worth noting and following.

The Up Series (1963 - 2012) is a happy accident, the truth provided by the commercial mass media in ways almost never experienced.

BTW, see the excellent interview with director/ producer Michael Apted (1941 UK - ) done by USA Movie Critic of fame Roger Ebert in the "Special Features" section of "49 Up [2005)." Ebert praises the show to the skies.

-----------------

Written by Tex Allen, SAG-AFTRA movie actor, Columbia PA USA

Email Tex Allen at TexAllen@Rocketmail.Com

See Tes Allen Movie Credits, Biography, and 2012 photos at WWW.IMDb.Me/TexAllen. See other Tex Allen written movie reviews....almost 100 titles.... at: "http://imdb.com/user/ur15279309/comments" (paste this address into your URL Browser)

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11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating, poignant, frightening

7/10
Author: scrabbler from Connecticut, USA
2 February 2013

56 Up - hard to believe. I've watched 3 or 4 of these over my 53 years, and each one becomes harder for me to watch as I get older. I was suddenly a little scared when the titles for this one started; I almost walked out of the theater. What has become of this group of kids that director Apted has been following since he was 22 years old? What new tragedies had befallen them? Whatever became of the homeless guy? Would any of them finally blow up at Apted on-camera?

Probably the most unnerving thing for me was that the film would just be unbearably poignant. It seems almost god-like to be able to see how a group of 14 people's lives have progressed over a 49-year period. (Yet, as one of the men complains, viewers can't possibly know these people, even though many in Britain presume to (since this was shown on TV there, many British people have watched all 8 films).

Fortunately, however, the film isn't overly sentimental or maudlin. Still, the film is very touching and can't help but make you think about your own life and trials, what advantages you may or may not have had compared to these people, and how you would have fared given their circumstances.

One of the sadder aspects of these films is to see how life seems to have "beaten down" so many of these people. Some of the kids with bright, shiny eyes who seemed to have so much energy and hope now seem to be dejected and defeated adults. Yet this isn't true for all of them - some of the reserved, quiet kids turned out to be reserved, quiet adults. And it's not all sad - there are some good laughs and some inspiring successes. And two subjects who had dropped out returned for this segment - one to promote his band!

There are plenty of clips from earlier segments, so you don't need to rent any of the earlier ones, but I'd recommend it. You get a more profound sense of the flow of their lives by seeing at least one other one. But whatever you do, see this one.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Life as seen from the long view

9/10
Author: Roland E. Zwick (magneteach@aol.com) from United States
20 July 2013

The "Up" documentary series comprises what is surely the most impressive longitudinal study ever committed to film. It is an obvious labor of love for director Michael Apted, who has remained faithful to the project - and to its participants - for close to fifty years now.

It all began in 1964, when producers at Britain's Granada Television gathered together a group of seven-year-olds from all walks of life and interviewed them for a TV documentary entitled "7Up," focused on the hopes and aspirations of these youngsters as they embarked on a long but uncertain journey into the future. Every seven years since, like clockwork, Apted has gone back to these individuals to take a peek into their lives, examining the paths they've taken and juxtaposing those youthful aspirations expressed in the original film with the realities of their lives as they've played themselves out. (The stunning contrast between the grainy black-and-white imagery of the first film and the hi- def clarity of the current interviews underlines the extraordinary length of time the series has already covered).

In "56Up," the eighth installment in the series, its subjects are leaving the confidence and security and general good health of middle age and just beginning to confront the realities of impending old age and contemplating an array of end-of-life issues (if not for themselves yet, at least for their parents). And it is for this reason that "56Up" is one of the most poignant and insightful entries in the series (and one imagines it will only get more poignant and insightful with each successive edition). All the major issues of marriage/divorce, career and parenthood seem to have long ago been settled for most of them, as they now concentrate on their roles as grandparents and life guides for their own adult children as they embark on their own lives and families. There's less naïve hope expressed in this film and more of an acceptance of how life has turned out for the participants, though there is a marked lack of cynicism and pessimism in the way they speak about their lives. Of course, they're still young enough at this point to be physically active and fully engaged in their careers and their communities, but there's no denying that the prospect of that fast- approaching downward slope of life is weighing, at least to some degree, on these people's minds. Yet, even those who haven't yet achieved their "ideal" lives still haven't given up hope that they will one day find what it is they're looking for. For obvious reasons, it is this installment that most comprehensively captures the range of a lifetime, at least until "63Up," "70Up," etc., arrive on the scene in the lead-up to the foreordained conclusion of the series.

It's clear from watching this jumble of clips from eight distinct periods of time that each stage of life contains a set of joys and concerns unique unto itself, a universal truth that this series, by its very nature, seems singularly equipped to illustrate. It's a bit like thumbing through - an admittedly disorganized - family photo album, but with insightful commentary from the individuals involved inserted along the way.

One, perhaps unforeseen, thread that runs through this film involves the self-reflection on the part of some of the participants about their appearance in the series - the sometimes unwelcome notoriety it has brought to them and their lives, with at least one of them pulling out of the project for a time only to reconnect with it at this stage, after having come to terms with himself and grown confident in his own skin. A few even question the very value of the series itself, feeling that these brief glimpses into their lives every seven years fail to create anything close to a true portrait of their lives and of themselves as people - a concern that Apted deserves much credit for including in his final product. After all, these people, at seven years of age, did not exactly ask to become a part of this much-viewed series, and why SHOULD they want to be defined and represented by it? On the other hand, as one of the participants points out, the series really isn't about these particular individuals as much as it is about how, collectively, they serve as a sort of mirror in which the rest of us can see our own lives reflected.

Yet, something indefinable and intangible keeps many of them coming back every seven years to open up and share at least a small part of their lives with us. And for that the world shall be eternally grateful. Now onto the next installment.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A unique and remarkable series of films continues

10/10
Author: runamokprods from US
30 January 2013

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 'Up Series' represents one of the most fascinating and unusual uses of film in cinema history - a documentary life-long chronicle of the lives of 14 people starting at 7 years old, revisiting them every seven years through age 56 (so far). While I could quibble, wishing for a bit more depth here and there (especially with the women, where there's a bit too much emphasis on love and marriage at the expense of all else), and by nature the later episodes sometimes have to speed through more than would be ideal,since they have to both catch the audience back up as well as moving the stories forward, no matter. It's really an astounding, moving, frightening and uplifting document. There's no way to watch this remarkable series of films without reflecting deeply on one's own life, and how you have changed (and stayed the same) over your own lifetime.

While Michael Aped deserves every bit of credit he's received for this amazing piece of cultural anthropology,it's important to note the first film, 7 Up, was actually directed by Paul Almond, and Apted was a that point a researcher for the project.

This new episode is as excellent as it's predecessors, revealing more surprising twists in turns as our group heads towards the end of mid-life, and stare into the realities of old age. Some old friends re-appear, some have continued in directions they had been going in, and some have changed course yet again.

One thing that's interesting, and more present in this episode than earlier ones are some of the subjects questioning the objectivity and 'reality' of the series. There are interesting cases made that what we, the audience, sees isn't the truth of who these people are, but only a created character. It also (by proxy) makes one reflect on how much being in these films has affected the lives of the participants. Just as in physics, it seems to be true here as well, that the very act of being observed changes what is being observed.

All fascinating and thought-provoking stuff.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A unique and remarkable series of films continues

10/10
Author: runamokprods from US
29 January 2013

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 'Up Series' represents one of the most fascinating and unusual uses of film in cinema history - a documentary life-long chronicle of the lives of 14 people starting at 7 years old, revisiting them every seven years through age 56 (so far). While I could quibble, wishing for a bit more depth here and there (especially with the women, where there's a bit too much emphasis on love and marriage at the expense of all else), and by nature the later episodes sometimes have to speed through more than would be ideal,since they have to both catch the audience back up as well as moving the stories forward, no matter. It's really an astounding, moving, frightening and uplifting document. There's no way to watch this remarkable series of films without reflecting deeply on one's own life, and how you have changed (and stayed the same) over your own lifetime.

While Michael Aped deserves every bit of credit he's received for this amazing piece of cultural anthropology,it's important to note the first film, 7 Up, was actually directed by Paul Almond, and Apted was a that point a researcher for the project.

This new episode is as excellent as it's predecessors, revealing more surprising twists in turns as our group heads towards the end of mid-life, and stare into the realities of old age. Some old friends re-appear, some have continued in directions they had been going in, and some have changed course yet again.

One thing that's interesting, and more present in this episode than earlier ones are some of the subjects questioning the objectivity and 'reality' of the series. There are interesting cases made that what we, the audience, sees isn't the truth of who these people are, but only a created character. It also (by proxy) makes one reflect on how much being in these films has affected the lives of the participants. Just as in physics, it seems to be true here as well, that the very act of being observed changes what is being observed.

All fascinating and thought-provoking stuff.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

The Eight Ages of Man

10/10
Author: boblipton from New York City
5 January 2013

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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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A unique and remarkable series of films continues

10/10
Author: runamokprods from US
30 January 2013

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 'Up Series' represents one of the most fascinating and unusual uses of film in cinema history - a documentary life-long chronicle of the lives of 14 people starting at 7 years old, revisiting them every seven years through age 56 (so far). While I could quibble, wishing for a bit more depth here and there (especially with the women, where there's a bit too much emphasis on love and marriage at the expense of all else), and by nature the later episodes sometimes have to speed through more than would be ideal,since they have to both catch the audience back up as well as moving the stories forward, no matter. It's really an astounding, moving, frightening and uplifting document. There's no way to watch this remarkable series of films without reflecting deeply on one's own life, and how you have changed (and stayed the same) over your own lifetime.

While Michael Aped deserves every bit of credit he's received for this amazing piece of cultural anthropology,it's important to note the first film, 7 Up, was actually directed by Paul Almond, and Apted was a that point a researcher for the project.

This new episode is as excellent as it's predecessors, revealing more surprising twists in turns as our group heads towards the end of mid-life, and stare into the realities of old age. Some old friends re-appear, some have continued in directions they had been going in, and some have changed course yet again.

One thing that's interesting, and more present in this episode than earlier ones are some of the subjects questioning the objectivity and 'reality' of the series. There are interesting cases made that what we, the audience, sees isn't the truth of who these people are, but only a created character. It also (by proxy) makes one reflect on how much being in these films has affected the lives of the participants. Just as in physics, it seems to be true here as well, that the very act of being observed changes what is being observed.

All fascinating and thought-provoking stuff.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps the best entry in this series...

9/10
Author: dfle3 from Australia
13 February 2013

I saw this documentary spread out over three episodes on SBS TV over here. Perhaps it is the new medium which makes me think that this latest installment is the best in the series. Somehow it seems more lucid and to the point. Given that my memory of the cinema released earlier installments of this series isn't fresh, I'll just have to take on trust that this superiority in quality is real and not imagined. It's my impression that the organisation of these subjects' stories is more logically presented in any case. It just coheres better.

Being the 8th instalment in this series, you have to wonder if the 'experiment' has run its course...it must surely have 'proven' what it set out to achieve...to determine how class effects people's life chances in England. These subjects are now 56 years old (obviously) and we already know how their life unfolded...many movies ago. The director of this series, Michael Apted, is also getting on in years and you have to wonder if he will be around in another seven years to do another one of these documentaries...or if his health will be sufficient.

Each episode I saw of 56 Up on SBS had 3 or 4 subjects the featured people of that episode (I saw this documentary late last year, so it's not fresh in my memory...going on notes here). I did in fact wonder whether I had missed a previous movie in this series (which I'm not sure is the case) because at least one of the subjects did not ring a bell for me (looking at the Wikipedia entry for the "56 Up", I think that that may in fact have been Peter). However, the series is notorious for various subjects not turning up in a later movie, in seven years time (some subjects I think have never reappeared after 14 Up). If there were subjects from 7 Up missing, they were not mentioned, unfortunately (a mention of their last appearance and the reason/s given for them refusing to participate in future documentaries would have been good). Since each new documentary often recaps the subject's appearance in some/all previous "Up" documentaries, it's not strictly necessary to watch them all in order...but it might be nice to check out where it all began, "7 Up" (the concept for the series being the old Jesuit saying "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man". The idea being that these formative first seven years will determine the adult).

Some things which interested me:

* If there was any reason to have another instalment in this series, for me it would be to find out how Jackie fares...in 56 Up she has rheumatoid arthritis and gets dropped from a social security benefit on the basis that she can still work. Like a soap opera, I want to know "What happens to her?". In this documentary she is relying on financial assistance from her son, I think.

* Director/interviewer Michael Apted is more the centre of attention in this episode at times...he wonders aloud to Tony if he (Tony) is racist. Tony doesn't like that one bit!

* John, a barrister, makes a good point about the series portraying his success as an inevitable part of his background (i.e. class) but he does make a good point about how fragile his background was and how his life could have crashed around him had it not been for his mother's perseverance. Such contextual information was not presented in the earlier documentaries, which suggests that the series was ignoring counter-factual evidence to its premise that class determines life outcomes.

* Sue was an interesting case. By Australian standards, her rise to being an administrator at a university would suggest social mobility. She has working class roots, I think. The way that Sue describes it, she is not doing so well. I'm curious as to whether this is indicative of the squeeze on the middle class these last few years or merely her spending habits. I'm pretty sure that someone in her position over here would be considered middle class, at least...upper middle class, in fact. I'm not suggesting that she is a spendthrift...I have no idea...just wondering if it is a possibility though...as in she thinks she is poor because she is a consumerist.

* Suzy is also interesting in this documentary, from memory. I think it is her who tells Apted that she feels a certain perverse sense of loyalty to the series...like it's a potboiler, but she feels a sense of duty to it, or something like that. In other words, she doesn't feel as if the "Up" series is some sort of important social documentary.

* The "Up" series has a musical sting (very dramatic brass riff) which reminds me of the Australian TV police drama "Homicide".

* Just btb, I was curious about a scene they included from "7 Up"...I think it involved Bruce...at the party, I think, or maybe the playground...it almost looks like he takes out another boy's eye (almost!)...or perhaps he was the victim. Looked dangerous in any case!

* I wasn't sure if all of Jackie's friends from 7 Up were in this documentary and I suspect that the more casual boy who was friends with John and his fellow 'posh' subjects was missing from this latest instalment too.

* Peter's return seems to be merely to promote his band! Apparently they are quite successful in their own way in England. It's this guy who I don't think I knew who the Hell he was!

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Feels like a best of episode

8/10
Author: SnoopyStyle
15 November 2013

The gang is back under the directions of Michael Apted. They are now closing in on old age. Everybody is looking back rather than looking forward. Sure they look forward for their kids, but not anymore for themselves. Peter has finally return to the series, but it's only a taste. He's only giving the highlights but mostly he wants to promote his band. He still isn't completely open especially about his first marriage. That is still better than Charles who is still absent.

The question is starting to creep in on what will happen to this series if one of them pass or maybe if Michael Apted pass. This raises the question of what the future episode will look like. It will probably feel like talking to my parents and the older generations about their aches and pains. Everybody will be comparing their medical health. The part I want to see now is Michael Apted on camera. He's getting up there in age and it would be nice to see the group talk to him as an equal before it's too late.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

8th film in brilliant survey of some British children, now adults

8/10
Author: maurice yacowar from Canada
9 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Michael Apted confirms the series' status as a remarkably insightful, moving, often poetic, chronicle of the times. More than a series, it's a phenomenon. The stated intention is to prove the Jesuit adage, "Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man." But as the upper class John here claims, the show set out to prove that England is "still in the grasp of a Dickensian class system," which he claims was not true in '64 and is even less true now. His friend Andrew's view is borne out by most of the stories here. A harsh stratification remains in force, but it is primarily economic, not social. In a brilliant spinning irony, the very aristocratic John claims Apted misrepresented him by not mentioning his father died when he was nine, his mother labored hard and he got to Oxford only on a scholarship. But John himself convincingly presented himself as a blue blood. Moreover, in his generous patronage of his forefather's Bulgaria he proves himself the ideal aristocrat! Apted frequently reminds us how documentary moves into poetry and real people into metaphors. For more see www.yacowar.blogspot.com.

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