“In one of my several reviews of the ‘UP’ documentaries, I referred to the series as the noblest project in cinema history. I am older now and might refrain from such hyperbole. But we are all older now, and this series proves it in a most deeply moving way … You know the premise. In 1964, British TV produced a film titled “7 Up,” which focused on the lives, hopes and expectations of 14 children … Every seven years since then, the series has revisited as many of the original 14 who have agreed to continue to participate. Now here is the eighth film, ’56 UP’.” (Roger Ebert).
“Despite some dropouts, the group has remained surprisingly intact. For better and sometimes worse, and even with their complaints about the series, participants like Tony Walker, who wanted to be a jockey and found his place as a cabby, have become cyclical celebrities. For longtime viewers they have become something more, including mirrors … It’s this mirroring that helps make the series so poignant … The abrupt juxtapositions of epochs can be jarring, unnerving or touching — sometimes all three — as bright-faced children bloom and sometimes fade within seconds … The more you watch, the more the movies transform from mirrors into memory machines, ones that inevitably summon reflections of your own life.” (Manohla Dargis, The New York Times).
“So, why is it that the series remains, quite literally, irresistible—to Apted, his audience, and his participants themselves? … with every episode of Apted’s series, the dogged pursuit of a kind of personal dignity seems increasingly urgent—less dated and British, deeper and more universal … The examined life: You won’t find that on reality TV. You may forget about it in your own frenetic days, or avoid it. No one ever said it was easy to face up to just how fleeting life is, how ineluctably yet unpredictably time changes us, how inevitably the limitless potential of childhood is eroded. Gently, Apted goads a dozen people whom he has described as a kind of extended family to do just that, for us and with us.” (Ann Hubert, Slate).