KEEP IT ON THE BROWNLOWE: Michael Apted’s “Up Series”

Another great instant viewing documentary on Netflix: Michael Apsted’s “Up Series”.

In 1964, British filmmaker, Michael Apted, began a project entitled Seven Up. He began to interview seven year old British kids who came from different social backgrounds. Some were apart of the privileged upper class, some were living in foster care, some were in between their parent’s divorce and others were beginning to be placed in intellectual society through intense boarding schools and education systems. Apsted hoped these initial interviews would provide insight on the different parts of British society from each child’s pure perspective rather than relying on media or news sources. In these early interviews he would ask the children various questions about their current state of living, what they hoped and dreamed for and where they see themselves in the future.

The project would revisit each individual every seven years to follow up on their lives, personal reflections and goals for the future. It was very interesting to see how each child has grown and physically changed in each 7 year interval. In fact, every seven years, the cells of the human body completely transform into a new state of being. The documentary was also interesting because it shows how people’s mindsets and views on life change with life experience – and how many ideals and personality traits remain the same.

This astounding, long term project also provides insight on how different social class and changing cultural norms effect each person. As the participants get older (35, 42 and 49) we see how marriage, family, career choices, adultery and the dreams they let go – or developed – effect each individual and the people that are around them.

As a social documentary, Michael Apted’s Up Series has inspired other nations including post-USSR and the USA to begin to create their own version. Inevitably, these two documentaries will be very interesting as it will be hard to avoid discussing the radical political changes in each nation during the filming process. Unfortunately, at this time, I have not been able to find full length versions of these documentaries online.


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