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21 Up South Africa Mandela's Children

6 customer reviews

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(Jul 22, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man, the Jesuit maxim behind the landmark Up Series has now been taken to South Africa, where a group of children, first filmed in 1992 at the age of seven are now 21. Rich and poor, black, white and mixed race, the varied, fascinating and revealing portraits featured in 21 Up South Africa offer unique insights into the social and political changes that have occured throughout South Africa since the crumbling of Apartheid. From townshp slums to old-school mansions to the bushvelt, the 14 children who started the Series have experienced a multitude of changes, just like the country itself. As with time-lapse photography, we see them at ages 7 and 14 - capturing their disarming honesty, dreams, aspirations of the future - and now at 21, trying to figure out their place in the world, part of the new South Africa, its hope for the future. In sucessive interviews we witness their changing attitiudes and experiences about issues ranging from race relations and educational opportunities, to crime and unemployment, to marriage and the AIDS crisis - which has already claimed the lives of three of these children.


Riveting! 21 Up South Africa is particularly compelling and revealing. --Sunday Morning Herald (Austrailia)

Most dramatic! A really interesting and accessible way of seeing what's happened to a country through these ordinary people. --The Age (Austrailia)

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Frans, Claudia, Thembisile, Katlego, Willem
  • Directors: Angus Gibson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • DVD Release Date: July 22, 2008
  • Run Time: 70 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0017WI5PC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,080 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on July 5, 2008
A Heart Wrenching Film With Many (sad) surprises.

I'm a huge fan of Michael Apted's "UP" Series of documentaries - where he follows a dozen or so British children as they age by visiting them every seven years. (You'll find my review of his latest elsewhere on

I was unaware, until recently, that another Director, Angus Gibson, had started a similar series in South Africa in 1992 (also made for Granada TV), finding 12 children - Black, White and mixed race - who were then seven years old and filming them again at 14, and now 21 years of age. (I'm not sure the earlier films are available on DVD.).

This film is short - at just 70 minutes - and has not bonus materials to speak of. (There is a Trailer for the British 42 Up DVD with an interview with Apted... I only wish they interviewed - or provided commentary by Gibson.)

These are truly "Mandela's Children" because they were first filmed under apartheid and we can see how the country has changed. There are affluent children included but most come from extremely poor single-parent families and nearly all are unemployed. Shockingly, three (yes, one-fourth) of this randomly chosen group have died of AIDS since they were last filmed at 14.

Once you start to watch this film, you will not leave the TV set. It's that griping. You'll also think about these kids (well, they are 21 now, so they are no longer kids) for days afterwards!

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Philip Meitner on July 23, 2008
Verified Purchase
I ran across the 7 UP South Africa video 7 years ago and I was capitvated from start to finish. For many years now I tried to find the 14 up series to no avail. Finaly the 21 Up came out and I was the first to order it. After viewing the film, I can honestly say I was taken back. You must watch the first film in order to really get to know these amazing children. To see these kids grown up and hear their opinions on many issues both really impresses and disappoints all in the same 70 minutes.
I would agree the most powerful aspect was indeed the perspective on HIV/AIDS from the group as well as the revelation of the three deaths due to AIDS. It is a somber feeling that you get, yet a sobering reminder of what AIDS can/has done to the people in South Africa.
The only disappointment was that not all the kids were included from the first film as well as having one girl who chose not to continue the series. I would also like to hear more what their actual political views are and how they reflcect their backgrounnds amist a very unique government.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film and as a Geography teacher, it has really enriched the teaching of South Africa for my students. It's Worth the wait!
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By Neale on January 27, 2014
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The first UP series was started in England 60 years ago and films the same people every seven years. It's a great social experiment in film, but the sad part of this story is that a number of the children don't make it to 21. It does give you a sense of the social diversity of South Africa.
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