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 adults after a seven-year wait. The subjects are interviewed as to the changes that have occurred in their lives during the ... See full summary »
A group of seven-year-old British children from widely ranging backgrounds are interviewed about a range of subjects. Director Michael Apted plans to reinterview them at seven-year ... See full summary »
Director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born adults after a 7 year wait. The subjects are interviewed as to the changes that have occurred in their lives during the last ... See full summary »
In 1964, to explore the adage "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man," World in Action filmed seven-year-olds. Every seven years, Michael Apted visits them. At 49, ... See full summary »
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>
Michael Apted was an assistant director and researcher on Seven Up! (1964). Here, he steps in to the director's chair, vacated by Paul Almond. Apted would go on to direct all the rest of the films, and indeed would be the name associated with the series. See more »
Youth can be awkward, but still better than no youth at all...
Seven (plus or minus a year) is the age of reason, where children can develop some cognitive capabilities and understand the world from a different point of view than their own. But it's not an automatic process and depending on the environment, the background, the education and the various circumstances of life, the conscience of the world and the ability to think, make a choice or a decision can differ from one child to another, and condition the adult he or she will become (in a positive or negative way).
And "Fourteen" is an interesting age to explore in the sense that it's a real mid-point between childhood and adulthood, it is also the most awkward part of life. Indeed, there's a general consensus that girls are more mature at that age, but it has more to do with puberty and how it inevitably reminds them of their procreative potential and their future roles as mothers (girls are asked about it in the interviews), but are they more confident than boys for all that? Most of the boys still look like kids although some of them are pretty mature for their age, so it's a real mixed bag, an awkward and... as they say- ungrateful age.
But because it's also an important step in one' life, I needed this time to be capable to put names on faces, and as if director Michael Apted anticipated that need, he intelligently juxtaposes images of the children with their teenagers counterpart and mention their names. The best way to start an interim report is to remind us where we stopped before. And I appreciated the way the documentary kept using footage from the 1964 film with Before/after short cuts. I could finally identify the three friends Jackie, Lindsay, Suzan although I can't say who's who for the moment.
Another trio is the posh kids from prestigious prep schools Andrew, John and Charles. They were already talking like grown-ups at seven but I wasn't the bit surprised to see them talk like economic scholars at the age of 14, they're so articulate you might not even pay attention to the content of their answers. Still, none of these kids ever tries to play it cool or edgy, they really take the interviews seriously, to the point I kept on wondering if that was a realistic reflection of British society... upper class, I guess. But the documentary doesn't go for archetypes or predictable scenarios, just serious questions about life and social matters, and from the kids' answers, you start to notice some early hints or patterns.
As a child, Nicholas was asked the question about girls and started stuttering and saying he didn't want to answer that "sort of question", later, he seems to be a painfully awkward boy with the McLovin actor's voice, wearing glasses and always looking down. Despite how thoughtful some answers were, he was the one who worried me the most. Comes in second Suzie, the 'aristocratic' girl, who was playing ballet in the first film and was the epitome of discipline. While there was something very healthy in the other group of girls, all giggling together, on the other hand, there was something depressing in Suzie's loneliness, isolated in that vast Scottish cottage of her father. What kind of good company or fun could she ever have? Did she ever want to have fun?
Another kid was in a similar situation: Tony, but because he was passionate about horses and was dreaming to become a jockey. Speaking of dreams, I was surprised that Bruce gave up his dream to become a missionary, but he has (ironically) a very literate way to explain why he doesn't feel he can reach people by words. It's all to his credit and it shows that one of the inherent nature of life is that it teaches you lessons about what you can and can't do, and as children, we don't know ourselves enough to identify our strengths and flaws. Of course, education and life circumstances play a significant role and the more encouraged they are to develop their own opinion and personalities, the more likely to succeed they will be... in theory.
But it is an age where kids should think by themselves and see the world from different perspectives. They travel a lot, one of them, Paul has moved to Australia, and they all express very progressive and tolerant views especially when they're asked about racism. So, I appreciated that these kids were able to develop a sort of empathy and not to be blinded by the results of their upbringing. I say that because I appreciate Simon, the only one of mixed heritage, and I hope he'll never encounter any mark of racism in the future. Of course, some subjects like religion and politics are more polarizing, although it seems that they all believe in God no matter how poor or rich they are.
But can you imagine such a program today? Apted's approach is extremely respectful of youth but also to the viewers, today's reality TV programs tend to amplify the effects to the point of over-killing. Today, one of these kids would have broken into tears and you'd have heard some violins in the background or a R'n'B hit song. There's no music used in the film, no effects, no attempt to make it more sensational than needed. I expected that it would end by some party (like the previous film) so we can see them interact, but I like the way it ended, awkwardly anticlimactic, like cinematic suspension dots.
(Speaking for myself, I remembered when I was 15, a girl in school told me I was talking like an old guy, watching this documentary made me realize there will always be kids who miss the most precious part of their life, their youth. Maybe there's worse than an awkward youth, it's no youth at all).
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