In 1964, director Michael Apted shot a documentary for BBC-TV entitled 7-Up. In the film, Apted asks fourteen seven-year-olds from all strata of British society questions about their thoughts on various aspects of life. Every seven years thereafter, Apted tracked down the participants to follow-up on their lives and again pose the same series of questions, slightly tweaked for the circumstances.
28-Up was by far the most inspiring. The cockiness and arrogance of youth had given way to the responsibilities and realities of adulthood. The tragedies that had befallen the participants did not seem insurmountable. By 35-Up, however, the series had taken a turn for the depressing. With middle age approaching, dreams and goals were becoming more elusive. Or worse, had already been shattered.
Now, with 42-Up, Apted re-introduces us to the participants, intercutting footage from the earlier films with current interviews. At 42, even the happiest of endings and most positive stories seemed bittersweet at best.
There is something completely invasive and voyeuristic about the 7-Up series that feels voyeuristic. But the way it relates to all our lives and perhaps a morbid fascination compels us to continue peeking into the lives of these fourteen Britons, even when the stories become sadder and sadder still.