Director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born children after a seven-year wait. The subjects are interviewed as to the changes that have occurred in their lives during the ...
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Director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born children after a seven-year wait. The subjects are interviewed as to the changes that have occurred in their lives during the last seven years.Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
among other things, a masterpiece of juxtaposition
This is not at all to put down the first entry in the "Up" Series by Michael Apted, Seven Up, but if you were to first go to this film- 7 Plus Seven- you actually would not be missing that much in the story lines of the children profiled. This is because Apted does something very smart in how he structures the material in this segment of the series, when all the children interviewed before when seven are now fourteen. He makes sure that the audience, who may need to be reminded who everyone is (at the time this was made, remember, things weren't re-aired frequently on TV, so many may have forgotten by seven years past), by simply just taking footage from the first segment of the Up Series and putting one interview following the previous one. It's not being lazy and relying on past clips, but a very precise form of counterpoint.
We see this as Apted unfolds the interviews with subjects like Bruce, Jackie, Suzanne, Nick, Charles, Lynn, all of them are here, and we see how specifically they've grown in physical appearance and voice, yes, but also in attitude and outlook. Apted asks similar questions from before, like "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Things like that, or 'what, if anything, do you watch on TV', and then it transitions into deeper, heavier questions that the kids, as when they were seven (far more articulate than many parents would ever give credit for) can at least try to tackle. Love, politics, religion, race, the state of Britain, hippies, nothing is really too far off limits to ask these kids, and we get a full spectrum of something very elemental: who are these people, if only in profile?
Apted is asking specific questions and getting honest answers- sometimes awkward, like when asked about girlfriends and boyfriends, but then again they are fourteen after all, that dastardly age to be- and its all framed about what was said in the past and what's said in the present. Another asset is the style; before it was black and white, looking like a very long newsreel story for movie theaters, and now it's in color, albeit faded over time, and the difference is striking (not to mention the intensity of the camera in some instances, as in 1963 Apted wanted to capture the rambunctious side of seven years olds).
While I'm not sure if 7 Plus Seven ranks as one of the best documentaries ever, and frankly I still hold out hope for any of the others in the series to top it, it does pose some of the best use of juxtaposition in a documentary I've ever come across. It's about growth, perspective, and innocence fading and changing, with more yet to come.
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