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The Seven Up! Strobe Effect August 15, 2021

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Life Balance, People.
18 comments

Are you familiar with the Seven Up! documentary series that’s been under production for the past 50+ years?

The Up series of documentary films follows the lives of ten males and four females in England beginning in 1964, when they were seven years old. The first film was titled Seven Up!, with later films adjusting the number in the title to match the age of the subjects at the time of filming.  The documentary has had nine episodes—one every seven years—thus spanning 56 years.

Film maker and Director, Michael Apted, followed the 14 children he selected for the series from the adorable age of 7 for the next 56 years, filming the trajectory of their lives through education, career, marriage, children, divorce, illness, vacations, moves, etc.

The documentary presents their lives with strobe-light like intensity ~> grade school * blink * secondary school * blink * university * blink * first job * blink * marriage * blink * children * blink * divorce * blink * retirement * blink * death

* blink *

The apt metaphor “life flies by in the blink of an eye” came to mind as we watched the existential ups and downs in 49 Up!

As each subject aged with spectacular rapidity, we considered how various life choices might be influenced just by knowing that there would be a “filmed reckoning” every 7 years ~ at ages 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, and 63.

Would we be kinder?  More charitable?  More cooperative?  More forgiving? More generous?

Or just the opposite?

Judging from some of the random behavior caught on smart phones these days, it appears that many people don’t care who’s watching as they misbehave, throw tantrums, and have meltdowns in public places.

They refuse to change their stripes just because “the public” is watching.

In any event, the series may have ended with the recent demise of its director (who also directed Nell, Coal Miner’s Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist, Class Action, Amazing Grace, et al).

After 63 Up! aired in 2019, Michael Apted up and died.  The two events are likely unrelated since Apted didn’t pass away until January 2021.  At that time, a few journalists speculated that Apted committed suicide.  I found no confirmation to support their unbridled sensationalism.

Perhaps Apted’s death is just one of the existential truths of his life ~ a forced retirement, if you will.

Life . . . we live it, or we miss it.