35 Up


This is the fifth installment of the Michael Apted’s Up series.

In the last installment, almost every subject seemed to be optimistic about their future. Whether they just had children, just married, just found their dream job, there were only two subjects that seemed to see the world as a less than rosy picture. Things seemed to have changed a little by the time they turned 35. Some subjects have divorced, had children out-of-wedlock, had tremendous losses in their lives, and basically began to express the ennui that comes with reaching middle age. One subject, Tony, has seemed to have gotten everything he wants and yet he alludes to possibly having affairs and failed ventures. He seemed to have started a lot of stuff without following through with it. I think this might be indicative of the way a person would feel at this age even if they were successful. Someone who has a family and a good job always wonder whether or not what would have happened if they chose another life. This sometimes leads to crazy reversals but I guess we will have to wait as to what will happen with Tony and anyone else in particular.

Another subject, Nick, showed his wife in 28 up. She felt that after watching the movie, she was depicted harshly and not in the light she wanted. Nick decided to do the interview alone and without any of his family. This brings up the subjectivity and judgement that each person has exposed themselves to as a result of these films. Many people watch these films, especially in their home country. Putting your life in front of the camera for fifteen minutes installments every seven years is daunting. Some people do seem to get a kick out of it. Others, however, express their anxiety towards appearing on-screen. Another subject that was absent in the last installment returns to do this one. He is from the group of three upper crust children who went to private school (Or public school, which is what private school is here. Their terms can be confusing sometimes.) He only returns to promote his charity. He is Bulgarian and set up a charity to help the struggling Bulgarians. He is a barrister which means that he is very wealthy and he most definitely seemed to have married for money or prestige. This hasn’t softened his harsh tongue in his polished British accent. He tells Apted quite frankly that he wouldn’t be doing this if he didn’t want to promote his charity. For him it is a “little bit of poison” that is being injected into him every seven years. Whether or not he truly feels this is besides the point. I am beginning to think that these documentary films are of more importance than the faux-reality shows shown on television because of this reluctance some people show. Everyone on those reality shows are chasing after some potent and fleeting fame. But these people are not necessarily seeking out the fame that these films bring. It therefore reflects a more normal and interesting depiction of not just British life, but life in general. Apted positions these people in their natural environments, and shows them in their day-to-day life. From going out with friends to hammering away at a computer at work to taking care of their children, we get a snapshot of our own lives. I realize that although these films are twenty years old, the worries and the dreams of people can transcend time and space. I can pick out who I am most like, who my friends resemble and who have aspects of my parents with little issue. This is something you can’t really do on a the Real Housewives of Orange County. We don’t see reflections of ourselves in their too rich lifestyles. But we do here. And that is important.


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