49 Up

Back in 1964, Michael Apted launched one of the most ambitious film projects ever conceived. He began filming the lives of a dozen English school children—all of them 7 years old when the filming began—with the intention of revisiting their lives on film every seven years. The first film in that series was called 7 Up, and now, with the release on DVD of 49 Up, Apted has traced these lives through seven chapters. The audience for those films has been afforded the opportunity to watch these peoples’ lives unfold, and that unfolding is riveting. For people who have the time, watching the entire series rewards that expenditure of viewing hours, but for those who simply want to trace these lives from childhood to late middle-age in more condensed form, 49 Up provides a self-contained experience, holding a mirror up to our own lives as we watch. Film critic Roger Ebert includes the series on his list of the top 10 movies ever made, and the DVD includes a fascinating interview with Ebert and Apted. Nearly two centuries ago, Wordsworth observed that “the child is father to the man.” 49 Up brings that notion to vivid life.