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Following Sean

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

What happens to a 4-year-old kid who grew up smoking pot and running barefoot on the wild streets of 1960s San Francisco? In FOLLOWING SEAN, a magical blend of deeply intriguing personal narrative and street-level investigation, filmmaker Ralph Arlyck tracks down Sean--the boy who had been the subject of his controversy-sparking 1969 documentary--to find out what he’s like 30 years later.

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In 1969, young San Francisco filmmaker Ralph Arlyck won awards and sparked controversy when he interviewed his 4 year old upstairs neighbor, a boy named Sean, who--among other things--discussed smoking pot. Many years later, Arlyck returned to California to find Sean again, and over the following decade crafted Following Sean. This rich, complex documentary delves into Sean's life, his family, and Arlyck's own family to create a meditation on work, parents and children, and personal freedom. What's most striking about Following Sean is that these fundamental questions never feel forced or ponderous, but rise up organically from the simple facts of his subjects' lives. Furthermore, Arlyck's editing is sharp, fluidly moving forward and giving this potentially aimless material a compelling momentum. Fans of Ross McElwee (Sherman's March, Bright Leaves), The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, or Crumb will savor Following Sean's similar mix of the ordinary and the profound, as will anyone interested in an unfiltered, ambivalent, and authentic view of 1960s America, one that weighs the cost as well as the thrills of that almost mythical era. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Original 1969 documentary Sean
  • Bonus scenes
  • Filmmaker interview
  • Filmmaker statement
  • Filmmaker biography
  • Theatrical Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Ralph Arlyck, Sean Farrell
  • Directors: Ralph Arlyck
  • Writers: Ralph Arlyck
  • Producers: Ralph Arlyck, Malcolm Pullinger, Steve Leiber, Steve Wax
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: March 27, 2007
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KJU1H8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,751 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Following Sean" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By P. Viddy on January 29, 2007
Format: DVD
Following Sean is a great documentary-- it's not one that hits you over the head with its message, but instead ruminates on life during the 60s and the passage of time. Part of it is about what has become of the 4-year-old child running around Haight St that the filmmaker interviewed in 1969, but it's also about what has become of all of us. The film weaves together the director's own life with Sean's, as we discover strange parallels and sudden twists. When you're done watching, you'll be left thinking about your own friends and family, and how each generation changes while still influenced by the past.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By nat david on December 31, 2007
Format: DVD
This is not only a movie about "Following Sean" but also a film about following the threads of several generations in multiple families including the filmmaker's own family. If there was anything wrong with this film it is that it had to end. There is still so much we want to know about the direction the lives of the various characters take. Bottom line is that this is one great film. Highly recommended here. Nuff said.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By K. Gordon on April 5, 2011
Format: DVD
Understated, thoughtful documentary about different recent generations in America, and
how their politics and upbringings intermeshed and evolved.

As a film student in 1969 Ralph Arylck made a 15 minute short about a bright 4 year old
boy who lived upstairs with hippie parents in Haight-Asbury. 4 year old Sean had tried pot,
refused to wear shoes, etc.

Now Arlyck sets out to find out what happened to Sean 30+ years later - was he a mess as some
predicted? Had his upbringing left him free as others hoped?

Of course the answer is far more gray and complex. And in
examining Sean and his family, film-maker Arlyck also looks at his own.

A quiet film, not deeply emotional, but a very interesting and worthy essay about parental ideals, family, and life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Matthew G. Sherwin HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 7, 2012
Format: DVD
Following Sean is a heartfelt, thoughtful and insightful documentary that truly takes a good close look at a young boy, originally interviewed in 1969 by filmmaker Ralph Arlyck, and what happens to him many years later when he has become a full grown man. The cinematography is excellent and I can see why the film won awards; it's all done so very well. (It did receive criticism, too, for showing what some people felt was wrong with America.) As others state, the film progresses at a good pace never feeling forced, too fast or too slow. It truly held my interest every step of the way! The quality of the original 1969 print is very good especially when you consider that it was not filmed using Hollywood studio quality equipment.

We see four year old Sean answering some questions posed to him by Ralph Arlyck; Arlyck had moved to San Francisco to experience the freedom loving/youthful California lifestyle of the 1960s and just two stories above him in the same apartment building was Sean in an apartment with his parents--and quite a few people coming and going with Sean's father and mother considering their apartment as "an oasis" for anyone who needed a brief safe haven while they were transients on drugs or running from spouses who had abused them. Sean's father teaches Sean how to use tools at a very early age and we see Sean loving it all; he's also quite intelligent--you can tell by the way 4 year old Sean answers Ralph's questions!

Ralph sensed some similarities between his own family and Sean's family (liberal parents, creativity, thinking outside the box, etc.) so quite a few years later--just about thirty, in fact, Ralph returns to San Francisco and he meets Sean again on a corner in the Haight-Ashbury district where they all lived previously.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Myopied on August 1, 2011
Format: Amazon Instant Video
This contemplative little film is the best I've seen in a while. The premise of sseing what happened to 4-yr-old Sean leads to a much larger question of what happens to all of us, inter- and intra-generationally.

Even the reviews are likely influenced by the age of the reviewer. for example, I bet those that thought it was slow or it had too much filler are younger...having been raised to think it normal to rush at everything. Even though I'm not that old...about Sean's generation...to me I could have watched something twice as long because for me this was excellent & I didn't want it to end.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Antoniou on January 20, 2013
Format: DVD
One might better experience this documentary when one realizes it is much less about his original subject, Sean, than it is about the documentary maker himself. I'm sure it started off as a nice, introspective follow-up into the now-life of the precocious little boy that shocked the nation at the time but then rather quickly meandered into the personal life of the film's writer/producer/director, Ralph Arlyck. In fact you're almost halfway into the documentary until you even see any new footage of Sean, all grown-up and a newly minted union electrician, something that would no doubt making his proto-Communist grandparents very, very happy.

Perhaps the grist of Sean's life today didn't prove to be that interesting to Arlyck's mill, so he turns the film into a kind of reflecting pond upon which he might contemplate his own life and his failings (one reviewer referred to it as "navel-gazing" which seems apropos). If one considers the reality that Arlyck's own life has essentially been one of meandering around as a professional grant-writer looking for money to fund his film-making ambitions - his French college professor spouse has undoubtedly been the bread-winner through their 30+ years of marriage - it becomes clear that "Following Sean" is more like "Finding Ralph Arlyck." When his own father openly mocks his career choice - laughingly noting that "every time he says cut that costs me a $1000!" - and he actually includes it in the documentary you know at least he is self-aware enough to realize that he isn't that distant a character from Sean's rather disconnected and extremely irresponsible father Johnny who has largely abdicated his basic responsibilities as a parent and run away from what any one of us might consider a real life.
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