You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

42 Up

Film's most consistent social experiment continues apace with "42 Up," helmer Michael Apted's sixth feature-length look at 11 diverse Brits, down from the 14 first profiled as tykes in 1964 (three have opted out). Broadcast in the summer of 1998 in the U.K. --- where it is a cultural phenomenon that has spawned an accompanying book and inevitable imitators.

Film’s most consistent social experiment continues apace with “42 Up,” helmer Michael Apted’s sixth feature-length look at 11 diverse Brits, down from the 14 first profiled as tykes in 1964 (three have opted out). Broadcast in the summer of 1998 in the U.K. — where it is a cultural phenomenon that has spawned an accompanying book and inevitable imitators — pic will roll out Stateside with a Nov. 17 Film Forum date, undoubtedly to cash in on the wave of publicity surrounding Apted’s work on the new Bond entry, “The World Is Not Enough.” As beneficial as helmer’s influence may be to that aging franchise, his work here reps a fascinating use of the docu form. Reviews will be reverent and biz consistent with previous two entries, which did well in limited theatrical and are still available in U.S. on vid.

Less flashy and more workmanlike in tone than Apted’s recent scientist-profile docu, “Me & Isaac Newton,” “42 Up” continues the theme of the 40-minute original (on which Apted worked as a researcher): the Jesuit doctrine “Give me the child until he is 7, and I will show you the man.”

Thus, at seven-year intervals, Apted and the same crew have checked in with the subjects to gauge their 1964 expectations vs. their unfolding fortunes.

“Boy, we’ve come a long way,” Apted says offscreen at one point, and pic eloquently reflects that weary, dogged journey. What began as an idealistic experiment involving the effects of class on fate (“a glimpse of England in the year 2000,” intones the stentorian 1964 narrator) has become more of a social endurance test, with auds rooting for their favorite to find happiness and fulfillment as the years and pounds pile on.

Seen in this light, docu is bittersweet. There’s the shocking reversal of fortune for the profoundly troubled Neil: In the series’ most unforeseen and serendipitous turn, Neil, who dealt with the stress piled on him by well-meaning parents by becoming almost defiantly homeless in Thatcher-era England, emerges as a successful, Disraeli-quoting, liberal democrat in East London borough politics.

Symon, the black orphan who opted out of “35 Up,” now proudly shares his second family with the world. And bereavement counselor Suzy, who successfully navigated a troubled adolescence to become a composed and graceful mother, takes an almost fierce solace in her children. Her assured passage into a middle age both serene and secure is tempered by Jackie’s alarming money troubles and the tangled love lives of nearly all.

Librarian Lynn thinks society’s “lost an awful lot of morality” since the first installment.

Life hasn’t been easy for anyone in this group, yet pic hints strongly that admirable staying power of subjects — all of whom seem at least fleetingly content — is due at least as much to a very human fear of failure in the spotlight as whatever grit and pluck was instilled in them by their British upbringing.

Pic is candid about the effect of the limelight on its subjects (“I should have done something dramatic,” frets one participant). The burden of fame has also led to friendships: Neil is seen attending teacher Bruce’s recent wedding.

Tech credits are fine, eschewing any hint offlash in favor of the undeniable emotional punch of watching these children grow from fresh-faced moppets to hardened adults.

42 Up


Production: A First Run Films release (U.S.) of a Granada Television production for the BBC. Produced by Michael Apted. Executive producers, Ruth Pitt, Stephen Lambert. Co-producer, Claire Lewis. Directed by Michael Apted.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W), George Jesse Turner; editor, Kim Horton; sound, Nick Steer. Reviewed at Denver Film Festival, Oct. 9, 1999. Running time: 139 MIN.

More Film

  • Paul Feig Heads to Universal From

    Paul Feig's Feigco Entertainment Jumps From Fox to First-Look Deal at Universal

    Universal’s comedy constellation just added another star, welcoming Paul Feig from 20th Century Fox Film on Thursday. Universal has set a first-look production agreement with Feig’s Feigco Entertainment, bringing in the prolific producer, writer, and director known for hits like “Bridesmaids” and the recent “A Simple Favor.” More Reviews Off Broadway Review: Daveed Diggs in [...]

  • The Fault in Our Stars

    Disney Retiring Fox 2000 Label

    Disney will stop making films under the Fox 2000 label, a move that could mean that its head Elizabeth Gabler will not be making the move to the Magic Kingdom, Variety has learned. The decision is surprising because Disney had previously stated that Gabler would stay on board at the studio even after it was [...]

  • Macon Blair27th Annual Gotham Independent Film

    Macon Blair to Direct and Write 'Toxic Avenger' Reboot for Legendary (EXCLUSIVE)

    Macon Blair has been tapped to write and direct Legendary’s reboot of the cult classic “The Toxic Avenger,” sources tell Variety. Legendary acquired the feature film rights in December and have quickly made the project a high priority at the studio. Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Troma Entertainment will serve as producers with Alex [...]

  • Danny Boyle Bond 25

    Danny Boyle Calls His Exit From 'Bond 25' a 'Great Shame'

    Director Danny Boyle has finally spoken out after leaving the upcoming 25th James Bond movie over creative differences. After splitting from the new 007 flick last August, Boyle told Empire in a story published on Thursday that the script he penned with his “Trainspotting” co-writer John Hodge “wasn’t finished, but it could have been really [...]

  • Film Review: 'Everybody's Everything'

    Film Review: 'Everybody's Everything'

    An elegiac documentary exploring the brief life of rapper Lil Peep, “Everybody’s Everything” certainly doesn’t lack for perspectives. Interviewing virtually everyone who knew the musician (born Gustav Ahr), directors Sebastian Jones and Ramez Silyan cover the waterfront, from Peep’s family to his girlfriends, his innumerable collaborators, his managers and his fans, trying to distill exactly [...]

  • A Brinks armored truck pulls into

    Fox Layoffs: Distribution and Marketing Leaders Out

    Layoffs have hit Fox following the entertainment company’s sale to Disney. The staff cuts are hitting employees at the SVP, EVP, and president level. Senior staff is expected to be among the first to be impacted. However, the cuts will be deep, with the ax falling hardest of Fox’s film team. There could be as [...]

  • Emily Blunt in Talks for Inspirational

    Emily Blunt in Talks to Star in Annapurna Drama 'Not Fade Away'

    Emily Blunt is in negotiations to star in Annapurna’s inspirational drama “Not Fade Away” with David O. Russell and John Krasinski producing. The project is based on Rebecca Alexander’s 2015 memoir “Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found.” Alexander was born with a rare genetic mutation called Usher syndrome type III and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content