It is fascinating to see the these adorable little children on the playground talk about their hopes and dreams and then instantly cut forward seven years, fourteen years, twenty one years and so on. It is amazing to see how some of the boys and girls had a keen sense of what they were going to be when they grew up while others were totally clueless.
I think this series which started in 1964 was like the first reality TV show. There is so much to learn from this series and so much to enjoy as well. It forces you to remember your own youth and the things you hoped and dreamed for as well as some of your friends. It naturally makes you feel reflective and at the same time inspired to do more with your own life. Sure, we are not under the scrutiny of a film crew every seven years, but we shouldn’t need such pressure to stay focused on our aspirations in life. As a matter of fact, it is so informative that many therapists, social behavior professionals and educational institutions use this series as educational material.
Michael Apted has directed most of the documentaries. He always does a wonderful job being sympathetic to the subjects, understanding how sensitive and painful it can be to share your life in such a public manner every seven years. He has made many other excellent movies, including “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, “Gorilla’s in the Mist” and most recently, “Amazing Grace”. Roger Ebert has stated that this series of documentaries is in his top ten movies of all-time. After viewing just one of these installments I think you will agree.
This clip focuses on Neil who wound up nearly homeless and ultimately in the house of Parliament:
Here’s an interview with the director Michael Apted:
Here’s the Trailer
Here’s the full movie for 49 Up:
For a complete update on all of the participants and the series itself, visit the 7UP wikipedia entry.
Note: A new documentary series called 7Up 2000 started in 2000 with a new group of children followed by 14up 2000.
There is an American documentary series equivelant with three installments:
Age 7 in America (1991) and next Phil Joanou
14 Up in America (1998)
21 Up in America (2006) by Christopher Dillon Quinn