1964 — Michael Apted started making the most profound documentary series in the history of cinema


Dan Winters/NY Times

Apted, now 78, is ready to wrap it up.

To spend time with a child is to dwell under the terms of an uneasy truce between the possibility of the present and the inevitability of the future. Our deepest hope for the children we love is that they will enjoy the liberties of an open-ended destiny, that their desires will be given the free play they deserve, that the circumstances of their birth and upbringing will be felt as opportunities rather than encumbrances; our greatest fear is that they will feel thwarted by forces beyond their control…

❝ These are the tensions that have animated and shaped the “Up” programs on their way to becoming the longest-running documentary film series of all time…The first film was conceived as a special one-off episode of a program called “World in Action.” The mid-1950s saw an end to the BBC’s monopoly on terrestrial broadcasting, and “World in Action” became the flagship current-affairs program of a Manchester-based commercial upstart called Granada Television.

RTFA. I’ll not try to knock-off a precis of this documentary. It has stepped back into the lives of the children every seven years for about five edited minutes each time. It is the record of a changing society.

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