49 Up (2005)

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Released 2-Apr-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 135:38
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Apted
Studio
Distributor

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Bruce Balden
Jacqueline Bassett
Symon Basterfield
Andrew Brackfield
John Brisby
Suzanne Dewey
Charles Furneaux
Nicholas Hitchon
Neil Hughes
Lynn Johnson
Paul Kligerman
Susan Sullivan
Tony Walker
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Up series is not only the longest running continuous film exercises but also one of the great sociological experiments of this and the last century.

The series began in 1964 with the short documentary 7 Up. Using a quote attributed to Jesuit Francis Xavier : "Give me a child until he is 7 and I will give you the man" as a byline and a healthy dose of Marxist class cynicism as its subtext the film gathered 21 (culled down to 14) English school children and surveyed their thoughts and feelings as well as their hopes for the future. The purpose of the experiment was to see whether the comments of the children reflected their class. The purpose of the continuing experiment has been to see whether, by and large, their class has defined their lives. Each 7 years director Michael Apted has returned to interview his subjects (now down to 12 after two decided not to take any further part) and for regular viewers of the series it is a chance to catch up with some old friends.

49 Up finds the participants older and a bit wiser. When it was announced that the movie would be made I , like many others, questioned whether the participants would have changed all that much since 42 Up or have anything interesting to say. As usual, those fears were unfounded. This film is every bit as intriguing as the previous instalments, perhaps more so given that Big Brother has taught us that it is alright to stare unblinkingly into other peoples lives.

49 Up is, not surprisingly, the longest instalment of the series. Each participant is taken in turn and we are given ample time to consider the progress that they have made in the last 42 years. In proof of the theory at work the participants have, by and large, fallen into class order. The poor have pretty much stayed poor and the rich have kept their wealth. What is fascinating though is the way in which the shadows of sadness and regret play just below the eyes of both classes. Of course, as a sociological experiment the film does have its limitations. Just as Big Brother contestants perform like idiots in order to "be themselves" the participants of the Up series have clearly been affected by the film over the years. When speaking to Apted they know precisely how their words will be portrayed on the big screen. In a sense it is therefore a film about the way that we construct stereotypes and interpret and analyse subjects. The fiery Jackie gives it fair and square to Apted chastising him for a question he asked 28 years ago and saying that the films are more about how he sees the people than how they really are. Maybe, she hopes, this will be the first one about us.

The upper class John is no different. He insisted that someone other than Apted interview him for 35 Up then dropped out of the series entirely. He came back for this film because he realised the film brought profile and donations to his charity works in Bulgaria. The likeable Eastender Tony, one of the few of the lower class participants to move up the ladder, has even done acting work, appearing in, naturally, The EastEnders.

49 Up presents an opportunity, as said, to catch up with old friends. These include Paul who was brought up in a home but moved with his mother and stepfather to Melbourne prior to 7 Plus Seven. We have seen his marriage wax and wane over the years and seen his aspirations challenged by his painful shyness and introspection. Suzy was the rich girl who, at 21 was clearly depressed and angry. At 28 and in love she blossomed and her happiness has continued ever since. Still, I couldn't help but read some lingering sadness in her eyes. Finally, there is Neil who was the chirpy, funny kid at seven who succumbed to depression at 21 and began a life of homelessness. Today he has a new direction through his role in local government but, at the same time, his troubles are never too far away.

These are some highlights but the truth is that every character is interesting and captivating in their own way. For those new to the series it will perhaps seem a bit staid compared to modern reality television. For those like me, who have followed the series for over twenty years, it is a DVD to cherish.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    49 Up was shot on digital video. It has been transferred to DVD at the original 1.78:1 cinematic aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

This was the first of the series to be shot on digital video. Apted has said that this represented a great advantage to him as he did not need to stop the interview in order to change the film reel. He felt that it allowed the interviewees to open up more about themselves.

The original film was 1.33:1 in black and white and each generation of the series since has been in colour of varying aspect ratios. The whole unruly lot has been combined in an unrestored fashion. Therefore the earlier films are shot through with grain and look worn and faded. Surprisingly, this isn't a bad thing. It helps define each era of the series and prevents us from seeing the episodes as anything but a time capsule, or should I say, a life capsule.

The current iteration is not free of problems. There is occasional noise and aliasing pops up from time to time to remind us that this is not a big budget affair. The colours are bright thoughout and there is a clear technical jump from 42 to 49.

All in all, the transfer is pleasing.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sound for 49 Up is a fairly basic Dolby Digital 2.0 running at 224 Kb/s.

This is no bad thing. There is no music to speak of and the film consists of nothing more than voice over and interviews. Michael Apted is clear in his narration and there are no difficulties understanding the individual characters despite the age of the source material.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

There are no extras on this DVD.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The Region 1 DVD contains some extra material including the following

I am not certain how useful these materials are but fans of the series may want to stump up the cash for the Region 1 version. Real devotees may want to buy the complete Up collection which Magna have recently released - all 7 DVD's of Up!

Summary

    49 Up is a quality documentary of immense value and interest.

The transfer is quite acceptable given the variety of ages of the material.

The lack of extras is no big deal although it would have been nice to see the interview footage.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DVR 630H-S, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TH-50PV60A 50' Plasma. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX - SR603
SpeakersOnkyo 6.1 Surround

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