Mon 12 May 2008
In 1963, now noted filmmaker Michael Apted, directed 7 UP!, a movie based on the Jesuit motto, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” That film interviewed a dozen British children from various economic and social backgrounds, all aged 7, and asked them questions about life, marriage, work, happiness, etc. Left there, the film would be a interesting, but ultimately unremarkable piece of forgotten film history. Instead, every seven years since, Apted has followed up with those twelve kids, found out about their lives and asked them the same questions. It’s fascinating to watch them grow old in fast forward. Question: Would you participate in such an intrusive social experiment? A few of the subjects in the film seem almost resentful of their involvement.
The latest edition (49 Up) catches up with Bruce, Jackie, Simon, Andrew, John, Suzy, Nick, Neil, Lynn, Paul, Sue and Tony for another installment. I won’t ruin it for you, but one child, Neil, who struggled with depression and eventually wound up homeless, has quite the dramatic and unexpected turn.
I think 49 Up would make the basis for a great group game. Watch the clips from each period for each child and decide: will they be happy? married? divorced? employeed? employeed as ______? overweight? intelligent? accomplished? I think you’ll find your stereotypes and suppositions rather surprisingly unshelved. Anybody want to play?
The next such film, 56 Up, will be in 2012, which conveniently is the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar.