56 Up Screen 5 articles

56 Up

2012

56 Up Poster
  • The series is both a testimonial to the vagaries of chance and an endlessly cyclical study into the implications of being studied. The series's openness to the participants' concerns is its compassionate signature.

  • Like the average life Apted hoped to peg, the Up series has had an arc—dramatically, 35 Up was its acme, startling in its juxtaposition between childhood innocence and the tolls of a hard midlife that had just begun to throw up challenges. Ever since, we've been lost in the wind-down; at 56, menopausal struggles grind quietly on. From here on out, we can look forward only to autumnal days and death. Happy New Year.

  • Washed out, blunt, beautiful in an inelegant sort of way, the actual shots that compose each Up film tend to treat the present moment primarily as a platform for retrospection and introspection. It’s in the editing that the films come alive. Apted has a sensitive eye for the expressive potential of the human face, and cannily cuts between subjects at various stages of life...

  • The abrupt juxtapositions of epochs can be jarring, unnerving or touching — sometimes all three — as bright-faced children bloom and sometimes fade within seconds. An analogous project in print or even still photographs wouldn’t be as powerful, because what gives the “Up” series its punch is not so much its longevity or the human spectacle it offers, but that these are moving images of touchingly vibrant lives at certain moments in time and space.

  • Unexpected late-in-life pleasures dominate the conversation, and to see these folks we’ve watched grow up dote over grandchildren adds yet another dimension to this ongoing every-person saga. Apted once wanted to give us “glimpses into Britain’s future,” per the archival-footage announcer. With this installment, he’s delivered an intimate portrait of settling down and finally making peace with one’s well-publicized past.