Another kind of time travel–Apted’s 56 Up finally arrives in the U.S.

56 Up banner

By C.J. Bunce

Forget about watching Downton Abbey one year behind viewers in England.  Forget about getting Lost Girl one year after Canadians see it or Doctor Who weeks after the Brits see it (OK, actually we’re really jealous about all that).  We’ve been excited about this news since we learned of the British release and first discussed Michael Apted’s new entry in his landmark series here at this past August.  After seven months Michael Apted’s 56 Up is finally in theaters in the U.S.

What is 56 Up?

As I said back in August, if you were asked to determine what single piece of film should be put in a time machine to preserve what it means to be human for future generations, or to send a synopsis along with a new Voyager space probe to a distant world so they could learn about us, what would you select?  For me, there is one documentary series that rivals all other documentaries and non-documentaries alike, that required so much thought, cooperation, and coordination over the years that it is amazing it was even possible.  That series is Michael Apted’s Up Series.  At a basic level, this true life tale of class and social inequality may very well be the closest we ever get to time travel.

Apted preview

Roger Ebert has called the series “an inspired, even noble, use of the film medium.  No other art form can capture so well the look in an eye, the feeling in an expression, the thoughts that go unspoken between the words.  To look at these films, as I have every seven years, is to meditate on the astonishing fact that man is the only animal that knows it lives in time.”  It’s also on his list of the 10 greatest films of all time.

Check out our article from August to learn more background on Apted and his look at 14 British citizens from various classes as they grow and change every 7 years, with 56 Up the seventh installment in the series.

Up Series still

If you’re a Netflix subscriber, you can stream the series now up to 49 Up and get caught up on what you’ve missed–or watch it again–before seeing 56 Up in the theater.  And it’s available for purchase at  It’s engrossing, engaging, and addictive.  Once you start, plan on watching it all.  Apted suggests watching about 3 episodes per week, giving you time to think about each entry, but also keeping each installment close so you can digest them all together.

As for 56 Up, here are the initial release dates and participating theaters showing the film:

Montreal, QC Cinema du Parc January 1 – 10, 2013
New York, NY IFC Center Opens January 4, 2013
Asbury Park, NJ The Showroom Opens January 11, 2013
San Francisco, CA Mostly British Film Festival January 17 – 24, 2013
Ottawa, ON Mayfair Theatre January 18 – 21 & 23, 2013
Los Angeles, CA Landmark Nuart Opens January 18, 2013
Amherst, MA Amherst Cinema Opens January 18, 2013
Winnipeg, MB Winnipeg Film Group January 23 – 26, 2013
San Diego, CA Landmark Ken Opens January 25, 2013
Hartford, CT Real Art Ways Opens January 25, 2013
Portland, OR Cinema 21 Opens January 25, 2013
Chicago, IL Music Box Theatre Opens February 1, 2013
Wellfleet, MA Wellfleet Preservation Hall February 1 & 2, 2013
Boston, MA Landmark Kendall Square Opens February 8, 2013
Seattle, WA Landmark Theatres Opens February 8, 2013
Minneapolis, MN Landmark Theatres Opens February 8, 2013
Atlanta, GA Landmark Midtown Art Opens February 8, 2013
San Francisco, CA Landmark Theatres Opens February 15, 2013
Berkeley, CA Landmark Shattuck Opens February 15, 2013
San Rafael, CA Smith Rafael Film Center Opens February 15, 2013
Denver, CO Landmark Theatres Opens February 15, 2013
Washington DC Landmark E Street Opens February 15, 2013
St. Louis, MO Landmark Theatres Opens February 15, 2013
Bellingham, WA PFC’s Limelight Cinema Opens February 15, 2013
Philadelphia, PA Landmark Ritz Bourse Opens February 22, 2013
Cleveland, OH Cleveland Museum of Art February 22 & 24, 2013
Atlanta, GA Lefont Sandy Springs February 23 & 24, 2013
Anchorage, AK Bear Tooth Theatre February 25, 2013
Boise, ID The Flicks Opens March 1, 2013
Santa Fe, NM The Screen Opens March 8, 2013
Houston, TX Museum of Fine Arts March 15, 17 & 31, 2013
Columbus, OH Wexner Center for the Arts March 26 & 27, 2013
Madison, WI Wisconsin Film Festival April 11 – 18, 2013

Here is a trailer for the film, with a glimpse of the film’s content:

Hopefully additional cities and theaters will soon be added to this list.  Check out First Run Features’ website for updates.  If you’re lucky enough to have a screening near you check it out.  You won’t be disappointed.

We can’t wait!

One comment

  1. Mr. Bunce is correct. The “7 Up” documentaries are a monumental achievement.

    I won’t attempt to match the summary of the series that Mr. Bunce accurately describes. I have enjoyed every edition of this remarkable series. The series as a composite is an anthropological, social and cinemaigraphic tour de force.

    To watch the evolution of each of the 14 children through more than four decades is a reminder of how the human condition changes, how social status has a lifelong impact, and how individuals respond to the different challenges they confront.

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