28 Up Reviews
Directed by Michael Apted.
This realism-style of documentary film-making was truly innovative in its time, a fact that in these days of 24hr-a-day Reality TV one can easily overlook.
Director, Apted, did not select particularly special children & yet, each in their own way, IS special. One feels privileged to be permitted to share a little of their lives & the journeys that those lives take them on.
It is also interesting (& sometimes confronting) to recognise parallels in one's own life to those seen on screen & has certainly given me pause to think at times.
I don't believe a film-maker could hope to achieve more than that.
****4 & a half out of 5 stars****
(This R/V applies equally to all films in the series.)
As before, the film is extraordinary in the way that it remains so thought-provoking. The viewer is encouraged to come to his or her own conclusions about the life paths that the children from the previous movies have taken into adulthood. Director Michael Apted continues asking piercing questions that make the subjects think for a moment, or simply rile them up. Although it has never been addressed before, it is in 28 Up that Apted asks the kids (can I call them "kids" still? when will I stop?) whether they agree with the statement that begins and ends each of the films: "Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man." Were they the same person at age seven that they are now?
Are you? Watch this movie with some close friends, because this is a group experience. What makes the Up series so endlessly fascinating is in how much it causes you to debate and consider and pose questions in your mind. It's helpful to have a sounding board to throw those questions out to.
And then of course, there is the simple fact that you have become entwined in the fates of this group. You feel as though you know them, even though you really don't, and their ups and downs can be as exhilarating or painful for you as if they were people that you had actually spoken with.
P.S. It's weird to know that the children of the subjects in this film are just a couple of years older than I am.
Oh! One other thing that I'd really like to mention about 28 Up that sets it apart from the previous films in the series. Where before, the film would cut back and forth between footage from the current date and the previous films, this installment kind of has a different twist that makes good use of the power of flashback. Instead of cutting off all video/audio from the current interviews while re-showing the viewer stuff he or she has already seen in the past installments, now you will sometimes hear audio from a current interview being played over images from the past.
And again, at the end of the movie, rather than just playing out the same, tired old ending sequence from 7 Up, this time Apted overlays the images from the children at seven with the children at age 28. It's remarkably effective and an interesting departure from the previous films.
All in all, I can only reiterate what I've said in my reviews for the previous three films. 28 Up is fantastic and thoughtful and absolutely worth seeing as soon as you can.
Michael Apted's "Up Series", beginning in 1963, first started to blossom in "21 Up". At 7, the film's subjects were endearing and humorous, but hardly compelling. At 14, the children were still oblivious and reserved, however it was interesting to see that their former expectations became self-fulfilling prophecies. It wasn't until 21 that the children had reached the point in their life where they had to make crucial decisions - some dropping out of school, some focused intently on their studies. "21 Up" is a fascinating film, and the first really important film of Apted's series. It's with "28 Up", however, that Apted's series becomes the most unpredictable. The character we assumed would end up in jail is a happy family man, and the distant and terribly miserable woman is now a glowing mother. If nothing else, this series has you closely examine your own life and ask what remnants of the current you will remain in seven years, and what have you gained throughout aging?
For those unfamiliar with the series, "Seven Up!" was a documentary made for British television in 1963. It examined the British class system by picking fourteen 7-year-old subjects of different social glasses, races, and genders. Since 1963, Apted has gone back to these same children every seven years, to explore what's become of their life. In each of the films, he provides flashbacks so that we don't forget the progression of each subject's story. Now at "49 Up", the series is undoubtedly one of the great achievements in film history.
In "28 Up", the most unforgettable face is Neil. At 7 years old, his smiling face glimmered through the screen as he skipped down the sidewalk. At 14, he was clearly an intelligent boy who was far more attentive than the other children. At 21, he had dropped out of school and as suffering day-to-day doing manual labor. Now, at 28, he's a drifter in Great Britain, a loner who feels that society has passed him by. I cannot express the joy I feel watching the series now rather than the series in progress - the wait of 7 years to see what becomes of this man would be excruciating.
Unfortunately, the series' most eccentric character, John, drops out and doesn't appear in "28 Up". Apted does the best he can, editing in past footage and pointing out that he has been married, however there's a glaring hole in the series with his absence. That being said, with these men and women's life examined so closely under a microscope, you almost can't blame him for wanting to take a step back and live life on his own.
"28 Up" is perhaps the best installment in the series up to this point. It's available on NetFlix Instant View, however i'd recommend checking out the entire series as a whole.
GREAT, GREAT, GREAT series to watch these movies...started watching them all in order in 2007...
(by coincidence one of the subjects ends up living in Madison, WI!)
So very interesting to watch this non-statistically-relevant social experiment unfold...
Reality TV before there was Reality TV...
We see a little of ourselves in each on of the characters and family...
A masterful editing of subject matter, to get the audience to CARE about each of the subjects and APPRECIATE things from their lives...
Ebert puts this series in his all-time top 10 or even top 5 lists...I agree...
A must-watch for anyone over the age of 25...