The up series is a series of videos that follows a group of 14 children from ages seven to 35 at seven-year intervals (starting at seven). The director meant the films to be a message about how the different social-economical backgrounds in England could pre-determine a child’s life. He took children from all different backgrounds, some rich, some poor, some in private schools, some in public schools, some girls buy mostly boys, and even one orphan. He followed the children’s lives and documented their opinions and their progress through their lives. The films were very interesting to say the least; in general, even if you didn’t get the message the films were trying to deliver. It was interesting to see these children progress through life and see where they ended up. Though everyone’s background has an effect on their lives, I don’t agree with the fact that it determines ones life, thus I disagreed with the directors intent and even think the films contradicted his theory. Not all the children ended up where you would have though they would have ended up if you where judging them from seven years old. All the children went through some change in character and though they maintained some characteristics they had at seven, by 35 they where very different than at seven.
My favorite character was Tony. And in reflecting on the series, I feel the need to mention why. I feel I can relate with Tony. He reminds me of many men in my life, he might even remind me of myself (but that’s a bold statement on myself). Tony was born in the low class, far from rich. Growing up he knew what he was missing (materialistically). He also seemed to know that he had limitations in life because of where he came from. He knew he wouldn’t grow up to be the President or a rocket scientist. But despite that, he was always a realist and set realistic goals for himself. And most importantly, he accomplished them.
One thing I’d like to mention is that I feel the director left out a huge factor in a child’s life: parents. The children’s parents were not even mentioned until much later on in the show. If I have to be honest I’d say that my parents had more on an impact on my life then my environment. They gave me a view on my environment and helped me form an opinion about it. They made me realize it wasn’t a dead end street and I could get out of it if I wanted to. I’m sure the children’s parents had an equally important role in their lives (whether good or bad). Excluding the parents from the show was unfair to the children as it would have given even more insight as to why the children act the way they do, have the opinions they have, and the ambitions (or lack of) that they have (a good example would be Suzie; when we later find out about her parents we gain insight and empathy with her, it explains her childhood and adolescent years).
Manslins review agrees with my view on the film. He states that even though there is some truth to the Jesuit maxim, it’s also contradicted in fascinating ways. He gives a few examples of children who contradicted the Jesuit maxim with their changes in personality and the directions their lives took. I like his review, because it backs up my claims on the film. I do agree with her assessment that the characters are drooping; only because as the characters get older, they loose a lot of the charm they had as children and also, as they begin to settle down, they become much less interesting. But such is life.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve always had a problem with generalizations of any kind. I’ve always been against stereotypes and any belief that your life is predetermined for any reason (destiny, fortune, etc.). So naturally, I would disagree with the director’s intent to show that one’s social-economical background would predetermine their lives. If there where any truth to that, then I, the son of first generation immigrants, who lived in a one –room house most of his life, has no business at St. Johns. I should be working at some dead end job or some sort of manual labor right now. I should have no aspirations or ambitions to change my situation. Therefore I’ll have to admit that I watched the series biased, always looking for an opportunity to prove the Jesuit maxim wrong.