49 UP
© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
L to R: Jackie (Jacqueline Bassett),
Lynn (Lynn Johnson) and Sue (Susan
Sullivan) as young girls in
7 UP and
as adults in
49 UP.
© 2006 First Run Features

        In 1964, Paul Almond directed a documentary for British television that
profiled 14 youngsters with an eye toward seeing what the future of England
in the year 2000 might be like. Some were expected to become leaders while
others wanted to be astronauts or bus drivers. A researcher on the original
project, Michael Apted, who has gone on to a distinguished career as a
director of feature films like
COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER and GORILLAS IN
THE MIST
, has carried on the project. Every seven years, beginning in 1970,
he has charted the progress of the original members of the group. Over the
course of the years, two have dropped out altogether while one, John, did        
not take part in
42 UP but has returned for this installment.

        This is a slightly edited version of the two-part British television
presentation, but as it is, there's a wealth of information. For newcomers
to the series, Apted nicely includes clips of the interview subjects over the
years so one can gain a sense of the person.

        And that is, in part, just what the series is intended to do. Track the
growth and development of an individual over the course of a lifetime.
This is the ultimate in "reality programming." Using a Jesuit maxim that states
"give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man," the series
has traced an eclectic group of men and women. Several were from the East
End of London and there is near unanimity about how that area has changed
greatly thanks in part to the influx of immigrants from India and the Middle East.

        In many ways, watching the
UP films is like visiting with relatives or friends
whom you don't see often. The films serve as a chance to play "catch up" but
they also are a great time capsule for the history of the late 20th and early 21st
Centuries as seen through the eyes of a select group of British men and women.

        
                                Rating:                B+
                                Running time:     139 mins.