159 of 163 people found the following review helpful
worth your money... AND your time
, November 27, 2004
This review is from: The Up Series (Seven Up / 7 Plus Seven / 21 Up / 28 Up / 35 Up / 42 Up) (DVD)
Given one of the most sublime points of this series, that time is precious and fleeting, it's interesting to see that people ask why they should spend so much money on this series, rather than the more important question of why should they spend so much time.
I resisted seeing 42 UP in the theater because I knew that one day these films would be on DVD and I wanted the pure experience of watching them all. Well, here they are and I'm not disappointed.
While Apted is very skillful in using previous clips to make each work stand on it's own, it's far more valuable to see each new clip as it unspools in real-time. For one thing, Apted can't know the future when he makes each installment and so can't edit with an eye to the future (and he admits on the commentary track of 42 UP that the two times he tried, he got it completely wrong -- and in one of those cases lost a valuable participant). For another, much of the richness of each interview is necessarily lost when it's chopped down to a sentence or two in later editions. Some of the most telling and poignant moments are those when one of the subjects gives a look to the camera (or the loved one next to them) in silence. Even Apted comments that about 80% of a particular film is edited out when he makes the next one.
While it's true there is a bit of repetition if you watch all these movies back to back, the total sweep of the experience is awesome which more than makes up for it. Apted does an amazing job by not commenting at all on the subjects (except through editing), letting the individuals speak for themselves. Their statements are loaded in a way that only an outside observe can see.
There are a lot of sad moments here as innocent childhood perceptions get washed away by the realities of life and it's telling that at least one participant seems to have dropped out permanently. One of the lessons that you can see here is that regardless of place in society, not enough of us ever really consider, in a deep way, the values and dictates that our elders speak to us as children. Perhaps that's why Suzy, Neil, Bruce, and Nick stand out for me - each has obviously done deep soul searching even in these snippets of their life. (And what I wouldn't give for an interview with Charles who seems to have reconsidered his life once he didn't get into Oxford.) For all their stature and privilege, John and Andrew seem the least imaginative of the entire lot and have lived lives on the conveyor belt as Charles puts it. Wait for the mid-life crises to erupt in 49 UP.
Be sure to listen to Apted's commentary on the 42 UP program. He clearly explains why Symon was absent on 35 UP (the reason is one might guess after seeing him on 42 UP) and John and Paul are absent (probably forever). It's most telling to me that it is the upper class (privileged) people who have the most problems with the Up Series (apparently Suzy does it reluctantly, but as part of her duty).
Watching this set of DVDs is a totally valuable experience and excellent reminder that our time on this planet is finite, so enjoy them...and life!
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