56 Up

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“An inspiring testimonial to the unpredictability of the human spirit.” — Joe Morgenstern, Wall St Journal

Year: 2012
Country: UK
Running time: 144 mins

Producers: Michael Apted, Claire Lewis
Photography: George Jesse Turner
Editor: Kim Horton
Sound: Nick Steer
Music: Andrew Gillooley, Rik Curtis, Stuart Bedford
Narrator: Michael Apted

With: Andrew Brackfield, Bruce Balden, Jackie Bassett, John Brisby, Lynn Johnson, Neil Hughes, Nick Hitchon, Paul Kligerman, Peter Davies, Symon Basterfield, Sue Davis, Tony Walker, Suzy Lusk

“It all started in 1964, when Britain’s Granada TV gathered seven-year-old school children from divergent economic backgrounds and asked them to talk about their dreams, their ambitions, their fears for the future. That 40-minute program went so well that future director Michael Apted who was a researcher on the original show, came back to interview everyone seven years later to see what the passage of time had done to their thinking. He’s been back every seven years since, making for a remarkable string of eight documentary features that add up to a matchless portrait of our time…

This latest film features a generous selection of footage from all seven previous ones… so even a lack of previous knowledge is no barrier to full enjoyment here…

Apted has also been the interviewer on all the documentaries, and that continuity has been invaluable in encouraging from-the-heart candor from the participants. They speak to him as if they were talking to an old friend or perhaps to an avuncular therapist they’ve been going to for decades. One pleasure of 56 Up is the ability to continue to eavesdrop on private lives, to see how things have turned out for these individuals as compared to what they hoped for in earlier episodes…

To witness [one of the 13 participants] Tony’s journey from a young man who was contemptuous of women to a 56-year-old who cries on camera when talking about the love he feels for his wife is to understand what makes 56 Up such a singular film and why it’s such a privilege to be able to watch Apted’s project as it continues to unfold.” — Kenneth Turan, LA Times