There’s no doubt that Michael Apted’s Up documentary series is one of the most ambitious cinematic endeavors ever, and if you believe Roger Ebert (which you always should) it’s also a “noble use of the film medium.”
If you aren’t familiar, the series started in 1964 with 14 children, all aged seven, from different socio-economic backgrounds in Britain. Every seven years for the last 49, Apted has returned to these same children to document their progress through life, with the undercurrent idea being to explore how class pre-determines future success. The most recent chapter, 56 Up, was released in 2012 with all but one of the original subjects still participating.
Part – only part – of the fascination that the series breeds comes from how it succeeds and fails at proving its hypothesis, and in fact how its subjects are affected by being subjects. In the latest video essay from The Royal Ocean Film Society, Andrew Saladino examines just what it is about the series that works and works so well. He’s created a fascinating exploration of both the film and the format that”s a worthy supplement to this grandest filmic endeavor.
If you haven’t seen the Up series, rectify this immediately, especially since the next installment, 63 Up, is only a couple of years away.
Related Topics: Michael Apted