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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 borg.com 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.

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