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Blue Squill

The UP Films  
By Maggie Turner  


Sunday, April 29, 2000

The UP Films

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Attila injured his left eye today. A tree branch bent forward, released and caught him by surprise. He insists that he is "alright". His vision is not affected. Humph! The eye is completely bloodshot, very swollen, and irritated by light. I do not think I would like to experience that kind of "alright". I feel concerned and will secretly watch the condition of his eye over the next 24 hours. Luckily, he enjoys sleeping, making concealed surveillance simple.

It is Saturday night. Shelagh Rogers is introducing TV Ontario's "Saturday Night at the Movies" offering, the documentary 42UP (1999). I have been following this documentary for fourteen years, ever since 28UP.

Fourteen children from varying classes and areas in England were interviewed. From the age of seven, the same children-now-adults have allowed the cameras to enter their lives and the questions to invade their privacy.

The first film, 7UP, was produced by Michael Apted in 1964 as a commentary on English society. The Jesuit saying "give me the child at seven and I will show you the man" inspires it.

The core of the class system in England is well demonstrated, as is the limited possibility of social mobility. Downward mobility seems to be easier to achieve than upward.

Two of the fourteen people originally involved in these films have declined to continue their participation. They are both in the legal profession and approached their careers from an upper class position. Personally, the trajectory of their lives seems predictable. The stories of the upper classes fill the halls of history. I find I do not crave real time versions.

I enjoy these films very much. The human journeys that I observe allow me to feel membership in a common experience. Difference is the unifying force; diversity is the bond. The twists and turns of fate are so unpredictable that hope seems a legitimate human endeavor.


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