Twenty One Up


This is the third entry into my series exploring the Up! documentary series.

We pick up these children as they are becoming adults. A good portion of them are in college or married, but some of them have rejected those two paths. One young man who seemed to have a lot of potential when he was younger ended up squatting in a rundown apartment in London. He is doing day labor construction and sporting an old coat with a massive hole in it. The one young woman who came from a posh background rebelled against the system and chose to run away to Paris. She is a chain-smoking young woman who seems to be completely sad. Another young man, Tony, who wanted to be a jockey has had his early dreams dashed. But he seems completely unfazed by it. He is hustling bets at a dog track and training to be a taxi driver. He is happy with his lot and loves not having much responsibility.

These young adults represent several different paths that life can take. You can drop out and run away, study hard at university (or not so hard), get married and start a family, or just work your butt off. Despite having just summed up the trajectory each subject is currently on, they each make their path their own. There are two subjects that are currently studying at Oxford. But their studies each look completely different. One young man came from the country and is studying physics and his energy towards the subject is pretty fascinating but he is exceedingly humble. He doesn’t think that he is very smart, which makes him the smartest of the lot. Another young man who came from a high-class society is shown hunting and talking about things outside of his subject matter. He doesn’t seem to care about his studies although clearly he does. He looks like the traditional English chap.

Twenty one up is more interested in exploring the personal potential that each person has. There is no judgements, just a concrete picture of the many different facets of English life. Although I wasn’t as enthused about this entry because it doesn’t get into politics the way the previous one does, we get a more complete picture of what a person is and can be.


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