For half a decade, people have been astonished at Richard Lanklater’s BOYHOOD, a movie shot over the course of more than a decade, using the same cast…. as if Michael Apted had not been doing the same thing as a documentary for more than half a century since, as a researcher at ITV, he had been a part of the landmark SEVEN UP (1964) and ever since writer, interviewer, director and occasionally the object of his subjects’ scorn for his old-fashioned attitudes.
The first one took the quote “Give me a child for seven years, and I will show you the man” and offered to check in every seven years to review the result. Now, as the subjects face retirement, one has died, and others are looking forward to the endings of their lives, they are called on for review. Is that seven-year-old still with them? What have they learned from the ‘program’ and is it of any value? Is the class system so evident a lifetime ago still in place? How do they feel about Brexit?
I think the series has been a remarkable achievement, and as a survey of the Baby Boomers, fascinating. It’s a pleasure and an education to watch these people show up, grow up, and become, slowly and eventually, themselves, typical and unique.
Apted has called the situation for 70 UP (2026?) “fluid”. He himself will be 85 if it comes out, along with many death notices for such of the original subjects that yet survive. It’s possible, I suppose, but I’m a couple of years older than these people, and there is, therefore, some doubt I will be around to hear from my old friends from Britain. I wish them all well. They have not been easy friends, but they have been far more honest about who they are than most people I know…. or me.