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Following Sean (2006)

Ralph Arlyck , Sean Farrell , Ralph Arlyck  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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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: #215,662 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Following Sean" on IMDb

Special Features

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

Editorial Reviews

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

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quiet, contemplative and moving documentry January 29, 2007
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film Here December 31, 2007
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lovely and quite muddled documentary January 20, 2013
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent. throught-provoking documentary April 5, 2011
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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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overly Padded April 30, 2008
The premise for FOLLOWING SEAN is fascinating. In 1969 while living in San Francisco Ralph Arlyck made a short documentary film about his four year old neighbor Sean which won many awards. Sean lived in a "crash pad" above Arlyck's Haight-Ashbury apartment with his free thinking "hippie" parents, a couple of siblings plus assorted visitors and the precocious child spoke articulately (and to many shockingly) on camera about pot smoking, speed freaks and his contempt for the police. The background of Sean's parents is also interesting as his father is the son of a banking family while his mother's parents were prominent Communists active in the organization of longshoremen.

Arlyck moved back to the east coast following the success of the first "Sean" film but years later decides there might be another documentary to be made if he updated Sean and his family's lives. Similarly to the subject of another well received documentary, STONE READER, Sean and his family are not that hard to find and their lives are not particularly extraordinary. So to pad the movie to more of a feature length Arlyck includes lots of footage about his own family - his elderly left leaning Brooklyn parents, his French wife and his two college age sons, one of whom in my favorite quote from the movie tells his dad he is just "fishing for sound bites" when he grills him on his reaction to the current Berkeley counterculture.

The fact that Sean and his family are currently leading pretty normal lives is interesting in itself and I wish Arlyck had been content in just updating their story and getting some of their recollections and reactions to their lives in "The Haight" circa the late 60's. Yet like so many documentary filmmakers Arlyck just doesn't seem to be able to keep the focus off himself or realize that a longer length doesn't necessarily equate with a better film.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended
fast shipping. well packed. this is an amazing film. i have watched it twice.
highly recommended. i will be watching it again.
Published 9 months ago by noland mills
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Film
I have a personal connection to the people in this movie. It is a compelling story and Ralph does an excellent job of telling it.
Published 11 months ago by Robert Sternoff
3.0 out of 5 stars it is shocking to see a little boy smoke
I like documentaries and it was very interesting to see a little boy who was being brought up in the Haight Ashbury of the 60s. That was the original doc., included. Read more
Published 20 months ago by D
5.0 out of 5 stars don't pass this by
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,... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Matthew G. Sherwin
4.0 out of 5 stars Rebelling Against Parents
In this case, of communist hippies in the drug infested Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco in 1969. Read more
Published 21 months ago by mr. contrarian
3.0 out of 5 stars Rambling view of three generations of two families
The title is a little misleading. I expected it to be how "Sean," the chid of 60's hippies living in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, turned out twenty five years later. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Promise
5.0 out of 5 stars Following Sean
Really enjoyed this work! I gave this to my daughter in Austin,Texas...she enjoyed it as well. For me...this is my generation... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Laura S.
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly poignant
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,... Read more
Published on August 1, 2011 by Myopied
5.0 out of 5 stars Applause
I laughed and cried with Arlyck as he created this film about his career as a filmaker and the impact Sean had on his life. Read more
Published on March 21, 2011 by Shelley Jean Tang
5.0 out of 5 stars warm and wonderful documentary film
A warm, wonderful documentary that makes you think. Poetic and haunting, the fascinating story of Sean and his family is told with wit and grace. Highly recommended! Read more
Published on April 28, 2010 by xo berlin
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