Thursday, August 01, 2013

56 up: Recommendation and Lessons

Jackie, Sue & Lynn holding a picture of a picture of picture of themselves taken over every multiple of seven years of their lives.
I love the Up Series. In 2007 my wife and I watched the entire series (up to 49 up).

For those who are not familiar with the series, the up series is now a 8 film documentary series that started in 1964 when Paul Almond directed a film about 14 British children in the UK of different neighborhoods and life situations. Almond interviewed them with the premise that it was a picture of Britain's future based on the expression "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man." Michael Apted, a researcher on the project, went to direct each subsequent film by finding the 14 children and re-interviewing them and following up on where they have been since the last episode.

Almost all participants have appeared in each video. 56 Up which came out most recently features 13 of the original 14 (Charles hasn't appeared since 1977's 21 up).

For those who find themselves online stalking old friends online, the up series gives you the same sensation because it is personal, fascinating and insightful.

I highly recommend the investment in watching these films - they are really incredible, and my wife and I found ourselves so fascinated watching 56 Up. It had been about seven years since we watched the last one, so we're watching it saying "Oh, yes, Suzy." Or for us, we were most interested in seeing what was going on with Tony's who's story we often find the most fascinating of all.

In fact, I think I've learned some valuable lessons from this series (I regularly sight the lesson I learned watching people's lives change from 28 to 35 to 42 in the series...perhaps I will share someday here, my "35 Up" observation).

So, in short, I highly recommend this series.

Here are some lessons from 56 Up...

In watching 56 Up, the lessons I learn in this series is that it seems like in your 50's life slows down, and the life of your children typically are far more dynamic. It also seems like both joys and pains are more muted. The participants in 56 Up seemed less excited about things in there life that previously gave them joy, but in the same way there troubles also seemed to be perceived through a lens that was less tragic.

Additionally, my wife and I both noticed that people seemed surprisingly more candid in the episode of 56 Up. We've often commented before on how people seem to loose their filter as they get older, and we saw that in 56 Up as well. It seems that perhaps the participants felt as though they had less to lose, relative to other times when they were far more guarded in their words.

Another lesson that continues in this series that I've seen in other episodes, is that the loss associated with divorce and broken families seems to carry out throughout someones life, and while many people create a second life or family post-divorce, there is still a loss. And this is not portrayed in the words of the divorced, as much as in the beauty of the stories of the families and couples who have stuck together for years. Long marriages, even rough ones, have a beauty as people age.

Again, I highly recommend this series. I think it's very much worth the time, and there really isn't anything quite like it.

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