Seven Up!

Movie Review #900

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Released in the UK only on May 5, 1964. Documentary/Short/Biography. This film is not rated. Runs 39 minutes. British production. Director: Paul Almond. No writer credited. Cast: Bruce Balden, Jacqueline Bassett, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, John Brisby, Suzanne Dewey, Charles Furneaux, Nicholas Hitchon, Neil Hughes, Lynn Johnson, Paul Kligerman, Michelle Murphy, Susan Sullivan, and Tony Walker.

OPENS OUR EYES AND MINDS TO THE REALITY THAT CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE, AND THE POSSIBILITY THAT THEY’RE A GREAT DEAL SMARTER THAN WE THINK.

★★★★
By Alexander Diminiano

“Seven Up!” is a miracle. You don’t find films like this in cinema very often. Genuine, intimate documentaries that are as intriguing as fiction, that depict their subjects so vividly that we feel as if we know them. “Seven Up!” accomplishes this in a matter of thirty-nine minutes.

It’s as much a sociological experiment as it is a documentary. We meet fourteen British seven-year-olds from all walks of life. They differ in gender, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. Some of the questions “Seven Up!” asks relate to whether they’re too young to comprehend their differences, and if not, how exactly they comprehend these differences. In the final third of this documentary, director Paul Almond plans a party for all fourteen of the kids, most of whom have not met anyone else in the group.

This film also asks what the kids want to do in their futures. Even more thought-provoking than the kids’ discussions of their differences, is their answers to questions that won’t even matter for another ten years or more. Do they want to get married, and if so, how many kids do they plan on having? Where do they want to go to college? What careers do they want to pursue?

“Seven Up!” is without argument one of the greatest documentaries ever made. Better yet, it’s just the starting point in an acclaimed series of films, each of the following works directed by Michael Apted. Apted’s films expand the experimental study into something of an epic, reuniting the same ensemble for an additional documentary subject every seven years. Following suite from “Seven Up!”, each title refers to how old those being documented are in the respective entries. The latest entry was “56 Up” in 2012, and Apted has stated that he plans to direct a “63 Up” in 2019 if he is still alive. But watching “Seven Up!”, where we are brought into the intimate account of seven-year-olds, it is virtually impossible to wrap the mind around the fact that the same people are as old as 65 by now. “Seven Up!” is a promising movie. Whether this was intended as a series from the get-go is seemingly unrevealed; from the vision of the movie, it’s likely that intention came later. However, we start to take interest in these characters. It’d be a sin not to continue on with the series.

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2 thoughts on “Seven Up!

    • Thanks! Yeah I saw 7 Plus Seven recently as well, and I’ll review that on the fourteenth.

      I reviewed this one on the seventh…trying to establish a pattern, so hopefully I’ll get around to 21 Up by the 21st and 28 Up by the 28th. Not sure how I’ll schedule my reviews after that, though.

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