21 Up (Apted, 1977)

The first feature film of the series and the inital moments we really start to see critical analysis of the program by the subjects themselves. At 21, each realizes the gravity of their own representation by the filmmakers and reveal the gaps within the process of documenting the changes in their lives. Apted asks many of the same quesitons of the young adults as he did seven years prior and it’s striking to see how the subjects respond to where they are now in their lives. While many have followed a path similar to their earlier explanations, a few, especially Neil and Suzy, have seemingly jumped the tracks and become completely morose and unsure of their future. These moments in particular are sad and compelling, the first real indications of disappointment within such promising visions of childhood. At 21, we recognize these lives are in constant flux, the subjects undeniably affected by both the film project their lives have become defined by and a lack of clarity towards seeing their own happiness down the road. For any film student or documentarian out there that hasn’t seen the Up Series, start viewing them now because their importance will be unheralded in the near future.


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