Thursday, March 23, 2006

21 Up

In 1963 director Michael Apted made a film called 7 Up.  It had nothing to do with the soft drink.  Apted takes 14 kids from England and has the plan that every seven years, starting at age 7, he will film them and see how they have grown and who they are.  There is a quote that runs through the series (so far) that says “Give me a child at age seven and I will give you the man”, and this is what Apted is investigating.  Is there anything in these children at age 7 that we can see specifically shaped them into who they will turn out to be.  After 7 Up came Seven Plus 7, and now 2121, or 21 Up, is the third film in the Up Series and as may be guessed features these original 14 children at age 21. It is interesting to me to see these same kids from 7 to 21 and now that they speak clearly I no longer wish the film was subtitled.  But it is difficult to see how interesting these men and women are.  In most cases when they talk about their lives, I just don’t care.  There is one boy in particular who seems to be having a rough life now and is dealing with some form of depression that was just a struggle to watch.  The upper crust boys are interesting because a particular group of three friends are very different now.  One is very stiff British and more than a bit of a snob, one is much more laid back and understands the oddity and pure luck of being born to a wealthy family, and the third is in the middle somewhere. 


I am far more interested in seeing what changes have occured in their lives than I am in the films themselves.  Interesting as an experiment and I understand there is an American series now doing the same thing which started in the early 90’s, but there is nothing here that says “Wow!  What a great movie!”  Apted has to spend enough time showing us who the kids were that I suspect with each passing film there will be less and less new content. 

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