The latest installment of the Up series, 56 Up, opens on Friday, February 1 at The Music Box Theatre on 3733 N Southport Avenue.
This grandaddy of documentaries and reality show prototype spans 49 years, starting with 7 Up, which followed a group of British seven-year-olds from different socio-economic backgrounds in 1964. Since then a new documentary has been made every seven years, updating audiences on the progress of the children, who are now grandparents.
The good news in 56 Up is that the subjects—Bruce Balden, Jackie Bassett, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, John Brisby, Peter Davies, Susan Davis, Charles Furneaux, Nicholas Hitchon, Neil Hughes, Lynn Johnson, Paul Kligerman, Suzanne Lusk and Tony Walker—are all still kicking.
In fact, the tone of the interviews shows a sense of maturity as several of the subjects have come to the conclusion that life’s disappointments must be met with humor and acceptance.
It appears they’ve also learned to accept the Up series. Although most of the subjects have viewed the documentaries with resentment and criticism in the past, they presently acknowledge its usefulness—from raising funds for charities and gaining exposure for their creative endeavors to airing their grievances on British politics.
Director Michael Apted, who has been with the Up series since the start (as well as directing several installments of TV’s Rome and narrative features Gorillas in the Mist and Coal Miner's Daughter) admits he would have made changes to the documentaries had he known they were going to last 49 years.
So, with age comes wisdom—on and off the camera for 56 Up.
For show times, visit www.musicboxtheatre.com.