September 22, 2013

Seven Up

Michael Apted, 1964

Apted films a group of 7 year old's in Britain, who will ultimately be the subjects of his continued "Seven Up" series where he films the same group of people every seven years.

The grainy picture loads, and it immediately gets into gear. What's immediately evident is the intelligence of the group of seven year old Brits. Okay, so what's the difference with their parenting over there? Clearly there are differences. So we realize that the children of the 1950's and the 1960's were different, but there is a noticeable sense of respect for their elders and a strict discipline in place. They also seem so sophisticated with their pea-coats and scarves. They talk about the wishes of their parents and the future that they have laid out for them. Apted utilizes some film-making techniques that feel innovative for the time, such as the erratic point of view shot with the camera rushing through the play yard. The low budget feel of the film gives it a sense of raw infancy. It's nice to see Apted getting creative behind the camera, but one must wonder if it's even necessary. If you set the camera down motionless the film is still going to come alive. There is so much personality in front of it, so distinct, that Apted himself must have been surprised with the immediate result. The children seem so comfortable on camera. They also act naturally when the camera is set back from them, observing the play yard and the scene with the same-aged drill sergeant kicking their legs that may be out of line. The short-length film certainly leaves you wanting more, wanting to see which seven of the children are selected for the future films. What will they look like in seven years? Will they retain some of the personality they had when they were seven years old?

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