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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: #343,522 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

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.

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 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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11 of 11 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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4 of 4 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars don't pass this by November 7, 2012
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Idea, Weak Execution March 29, 2010
In the late-1960s San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury was the counterculture's ground zero. Filmmaker Ralph Arlyck lived in the Haight back then and made a movie about his four-year-old neighbor, Sean Farrell. Sean's parents allowed him to run barefoot in the streets and use marijuana.

In the 1990s, Arlyck returned to San Francisco and tracked down Sean to see what had become of him. Sean and his family have differing opinions on the 1960s and their time in the Haight. The younger members, frankly, don't seem interested in the old counterculture.

If Arlyck had better instincts, Following Sean could have great. He should have used his interviews to bring out the family's story and how the 1960s shaped (or didn't shape) them. Arlyck is a poor interviewer who talks over his subjects when they don't give him the answers that he wants. He also insults Sean's father, Johnny, by saying that Johnny abandons people when they become a burden. A skilled interviewer with a few social graces could have gotten more out of the interviews.

A bigger problem is that, after the first 20 minutes or so, Arlyck makes himself the focus. Following Sean bogs down as Arlyck wallows in self-centered navel gazing and boring tangents. Viewers suffer through footage of Arlyck's two sons and of his cat. The sons show the same level of interest in the film as does the cat.

Following Sean is mildly interesting. For a better look at the 1960s, try the documentary Commune.
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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 11 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 14 months ago by Robert Sternoff
3.0 out of 5 stars A lovely and quite muddled documentary
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. Read more
Published 21 months ago by J. Antoniou
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 22 months ago by D
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 24 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 on October 5, 2012 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 on September 10, 2012 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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