49 Up (Apted, 2006)

I finally feel up to date with these characters and it’s surprisingly sad. Now I must wait seven years to see the next one like everybody else. For the first time we see extreme aging on many of them, an even more surreal realization than the other films. There’s so much material Apted has to work with now, and it ultimately makes the films longer but with regrettably less new material. Apted takes more screen-time to setup the lives of his subjects, now 49 years old, some growing visibly wary of the process. A few, especially Lynn and Suzy, seem to be on the brink of quitting the program out of respect for their families. “A little pill of poison” British barrister John calls the series, which visits him every seven years harkening back memories too painful to admit any other time. We can now see the full emotional toll of Apted’s brilliant series on his subjects, something a few of them had alluded to but never made the emphasis of their entire individual interviews.I feel 49 Up to be one of the less dynamic, more transitional works in the series, not to say it isn’t just as important. The Up children appear to be in stasis at the moment, happy with where they are in life, regrets fading into the background, their younger dreams slowly drifting into the night. There’s a distinct sadness in all of their eyes, even Nick, the physicist who had such high hopes for his research in nuclear fusion, only to find out his life long work wasn’t possible. Maybe it’s this sadness which scares me more than anything else. They all seem hopeful about the future, but on the other hand they feel some emptiness at lost loves, lost dreams, which they have now chosen to entirely push to the past. I guess these special people have to at some point. For most human beings, time and distance dissolve heartache slowly, allowing a sort of moving on process to emerge, but for these subjects, they’ll always have a vivid time capsule to remind them of their joys and sadness’.

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