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  • 49 Up
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49 Up
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on February 26, 2011
The 'Up Series' represents one of the most fascinating and unusual uses of film in cinema history - a documentary life-long chronicle of the lives of 14 people starting at 7 years old, revisiting them every seven years through age 56 (so far), presented largely through simple, straightforward, beautifully done interviews.

This film is from the more recent part of that journey. And while it can be enjoyed in a vacuum, the true power of the piece is watching these people through the arc of their whole lives. Watching one piece out of that context can't have quite the same power. This is a case where the sum is greater than the parts, even if the parts are all pretty terrific.

In terms of the series as a whole (which I strongly suggest you seek out) - while I could quibble, wishing for a bit more depth here and there (especially with the women, where there's a bit too much emphasis on love and marriage at the expense of all else), it's really an astounding, moving, frightening and uplifting document. There's no way to watch this remarkable series of films without reflecting deeply on one's own life, and how you have changed (and stayed the same) over your own lifetime.

While Michael Aped deserves every bit of credit he's received for this amazing piece of cultural anthropology, it's important to note that the first film, 7 Up,was actually directed by Paul Almond, and Apted was a that point a researcher for the project.
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on May 24, 2013
If you are 50+ then this is the DVD for you. As stated in the documentary this is not about the people being interviewed every seven years. It is about life, and it shows how people evolve over time. I identified with one of the people being interviewed, as well as my sister. This is one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time. I purchased both the 49 Up and 56 Up. I have let my high school classmates borrow the DVD since we do a reunion every five years. They loved it as well. My only disappointment was that purchasing the DVD there was no option for captions. I was surprised they left out the captions. I could understand most of what was said, but some of the accents were hard to follow.
Also to note this DVD is in PAL format, and not NTSC. PAL is the DVD format used by the UK. Make sure your DVD player will play PAL. In this day and age that should not be an issue. My Mac popped up with an error that I could only change my region four times, and then could not change it anymore. if you are watching this on a DVD player this should not be an issue.
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on November 18, 2006
Perhaps I am especially sentimental about this series because the participants are my age, but when "49 Up" came to a close with scenes from the original film, "Seven Up," I found myself in tears.

It has been suggested that the series was originally intended to illustrate that children born into various social classes were destined to follow a specific course in life. But time has revealed something very different: that money, class, and education are superficial differences, and that all of us are bound by our common human experience. Every one of the participants has dealt with some sort of adversity -- the death of parents, divorce, illness, depression, loss of a job -- but has persevered with the love and support of family and friends. We learn about their joys, too -- the arrival of grandchildren, a new love, a new career.

Another reviewer commented that time has not been kind to most of the participants from a physical standpoint. No doubt a young person wrote that! Yes, many folks our age (including me) have put on some extra pounds, lost hair or gone grayer, or developed a few wrinkles. But I find their faces kinder and wiser and more beautiful, even more so when those who are married reaffirm their love for one another and talk about how their spouses have helped them through the hard times.

One thing that impresses me is that all of the subjects are good people -- not perfect, not immune from taking a wrong turn once in a while, but trying hard to do the right thing in life. I am so proud of all of them and can hardly wait seven years to find out how they have fared since I saw them last.

There are challenges ahead for Michael Apted and his crew. Clearly it is becoming more difficult for some of the participants to find their lives under scrutiny every seven years, for a couple of them suggested that "49 Up" will be their last film. At the same time, the sheer volume of footage will make it increasingly difficult to bring viewers up to date on each participant every seven years while including flashbacks from the previous films. (Even now, "49 Up" probably will not be as meaningful to those who have not seen the earlier films.)

But the series is historic, of deep and timeless value, and one of the most moving documentaries I have ever seen. I hope it will continue, but if some of the participants find later that they can't continue, nonetheless, in the first seven films they have given us an incomparable gift.
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on November 15, 2006
I can't recall my introduction to the Up series, like the participants age is catching up with me. But I have followed the series religiously and was dismayed when rumors circulated that 42 Up would be the last installment. Recently, while reading news from Australia online, I was delighted to learn that Neil (Hughes) was to be a guest speaker at the Annual Conference of the Municipal Association of Victoria (Australia). At 50 he was still going strong, now a local councilor in Eden District in northern England. And the local Victorian government had invited him to speak because they viewed him as a model to those toying with the idea of politics and public life. I thought I would chase down the 42 Up DVD and reacquaint myself with the series,.....and there it was 49 Up!

There is a voyeuristic aspect in viewing the Up series. But it is more than that; it is more than an obsessive recording of the lives of 14 individuals. As Roger Ebert notes in the accompanying interview of Michael Apted, many of us have grown up alongside these people and so the Up series is a chance for us to reflect on our own lives. I know of no other medium that allows such a personal examination of a single generation. A generation that, although it is the tail end of the baby boom, is none the less significant for the period it has covered. True, Apted is careful not to question too deeply about politics and world events, and this is as it should be. What is important (for the viewer to retain interest) is how the lives of these people progresses in terms of family, relationships, occupations etc - the stuff of everyday life. Whether political, economic, or world events influence their lives is less important; although in some cases this does occur and has been used by at least one participant to leverage a personal interest.

Many, if not all, the participants seem to view their involvement as a stressful event every seven years, a poison pill. It seems from 49 Up that at least one and perhaps more may not return for 56 Up. This would be unfortunate as 49 Up showed that most had reached a comfortable plateau in their lives, and one imagines that in the next seven years many will become even more comfortable within themselves and relish the opportunity to reflect back on life. Others are sure to be less comfortable with that. One thing is certain, we (the viewers) should feel privileged that these individuals allow us the opportunity to invade their lives every seven years.
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on February 19, 2007
Having followed the lives of the individuals from age 7, I was looking forward to the new episode where they have reached age 49. Will Tony still be married? Will Paul be happier? Will Jacqui still be in Scotland? Will Bruce and Nick still be saving/changing the world? Will John take part and will Charles and Peter come back in to the series? And what will Neil be up to? And Sue and Suzie and Lyn? I feel like I know all the characters well and almost as personal friends and I really want to know what they are all up to. Do they have grandchildren? Have any of them become sick? Heart disease and cancer often strike at around this age. The whole series is a fascinating study and the question John puts - "does it really prove anything" is a worthwhile question but it doesn't make the series any less rivetting.

The comment was made by a number of them that they are "comfortable in their own skin now" and Neil's view on life and why we are here are two of the many things which make the movie worth watching. I thoroughly recommend this movie and the 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 and 42 Ups.
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on March 12, 2014
give me a boy at 7 and i will show you the man.

Superb series which follows the lives of children from all backgrounds.

It has joy, sadness and confirms that you can succeed if you are from a poorer background, and you will succeed if you are from a more privileged background.

However, the participants that do "fall off" their path have more difficulties if they are poorer whilst the richer one really don't have the same hurdles
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on February 8, 2007
This is the latest entry in this extraordinary series of documentaries, and is as well-done as every one of them -- which is to say, it is truly excellent. If you haven't followed the lives featured in the every-seven-years installments, do yourself a favor and buy the collection, then watch them in order. Although some of the subjects in "49 UP" talk about the negative ways in which the series has affected their lives, the tone in general is gentler and more hopeful than the last documentary. Maybe they are mellowing with age. Although there is inevitably something voyeuristic about watching people talk about these lives we've shared, warts and all, one can't help but feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to participate in this cinema verite.
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on January 18, 2007
The concept of Michael Apted's series is so compelling that watching any of them is well-worth two hours of anyone's time. 49-Up is no exception, especially since nearly all the participants have reached a touching level of inner peace and acceptance of their lives. This latest installment is distinctive in that a number of the participants express real resentment towards Apted and describe the process of being in the films as difficult and emotionally harrowing. While this aspect makes 49-Up somewhat hard to watch at times (viewers can't help but wonder just how cold and intrusive Apted can be), it is thought-provoking and calls into questions the ethics and purpose of the project, especially in this day and age of reality TV.
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on January 16, 2007
This is the third movie in the UP series that I've seen. It's wonderful, just like the others. I hope and pray that all the original 14 children will agree to being interviewed for 56 Up when its time comes. Suzy, please don't quit. Jackie, I don't think you were made to look bad in 42 Up--you came across as a very strong woman handling her life so well. Peter and Charles, please come back for the next one. This is an in-depth study of our very human arcs of life. Tony, Lynn, Bruce, Neil and all the rest, thank you for allowing people to see your inmost being. Only flaw: no subtitles for those of us with hearing loss.
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on April 15, 2009
A great look at the lives of young Londoners as they evolve into adults and move on to middle age. Your own life flashes before you as you watch this film as well and see a little of yourself in all the "UP" kids. A masterpiece of film work everyone should sit down and watch with their family members. I thought about this film for days after seeing it. The best documentory I have ever watched. I can't wait till 56-UP releases in a couple of years!
Al Abdullah
St.Louis, MO.
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