Documentary Retroview: 56 UP

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56 UP is the latest chapter in The UP Series, filmmaker Michael Apted’s monumental series about fourteen British citizens, following their lives since 1963, when they were seven year old boys and girls living in very different circumstances in diverse regions of the United Kingdom.

The original film was intended to be a projection about what life in Britain would be like in the future for the youngsters in the film. In episodes shot every seven years, the series shows what happens in the lives and circumstances of the children as they become adults, have families of their own, pursue careers, and enter middle age.

57 UP is, obviously, the seventh film in the series. It is a reunion, of sorts, because the several members of the original group who’d dropped out during previous episodes, or participated only intermittently, are back on screen. By now, they’re all approaching middle age, and their lives and lifestyles have been established.

Through the years, the cast has been augmented by spouses and children, and other regulars who fill out the ‘kids’ individual stories.

For those who’ve followed the entire UP Series, it’s a treat to catch up on their developments. For those who haven’t seen all — or any — of the previous films, this episode is easy enough to follow. There are clips from past episodes that provide sufficient background, and fill in the essential information and salient details that explain how everyone arrived at their current situation.

These are ‘ordinary people’ and their life stories — their decisions in facing life’s problems, their aspirations, triumphs and failures, relationships and careers — resonate with audiences. So much so that viewers who haven’t seen previous episodes will undoubtedly rush to do so. Luckily, the entire series is available on DVD.

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Film Details:

Title: 56 UP
Director: Michael Apted
UK Release Date: May 14, 2012
U.S. Theatrical Release Date: January 4, 2013 (limited)
Running Time: 60 mins.
Locations: Various locations in England
Language: English
Production Country: Great Britain
Distribution Company: First Run Features

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