Random Bullets of 49 Up
- The place was packed. The line went down the block. Granted, the film's only here for a week, and it was a rainy Sunday afternoon, the perfect circumstance for a movie. But also it is evidence that I'm not alone in my 15+-year obsession with the continuing story of these fourteen random Brits.
- Except for Tony, the jolly ex-jockey, just about everyone apparently hates being part of the series. Several people spoke quite bitterly about it, and yet most of them keep showing up every seven years. They do get paid to participate, according to Wikipedia, but that can't be their motivation as most of them are doing all right financially. I think I'd hate it, too; I'm self-conscious enough as it is without my whole life being viewed and analyzed by millions of people at seven-year intervals. You've gotta feel for them; it's not like they knew what they were in for when it all got started back in 1964.
- But I love watching it. So much for my snobbish standoffishness about reality TV: one participant (one of my least-favorite, but never mind) pointed out that this time around that the series was really the first example of reality TV. Actually the fact that most of them hate it might be one difference; if they were eager to bare everything about their lives every seven years, I don't think I'd trust their portraits so much.
- A lot of them are divorced. I don't know what the statistics are in England generally, but I figure either they're as high as they are in the U.S. or maybe the series has contributed to straining the participants' marriages.
- A few of the participants, the ones who had children early, are grandparents now, which startled me more than anything else: 49 seems pretty young. But they're all so happy with their grandchildren; even more than they were about their kids.
- One character who I would have bet was gay is now married with kids; go figure. Another, who is divorced, said something briefly about a "partner" of unspecified gender who didn't want to appear in the film. It's not the most noble urge but I keep wishing one of them would come out.
- I know Michael Apted originally meant the film to be a political statement about class in Britain, but it's turned out more as a series about stages of life. At least that's how it seems to me: seeing all these very different people who are the same age gives a kind of composite portrait of life at, say, 35 or 49.I saw 28 Up on video in about 1990, and have seen all the films since on a big screen as soon as they come out. Since I'm about ten years younger than the participants (at least by the time I see them onscreen), it feels a little like a glimpse into my future, or a sort of British version of my future. This time, I was struck by how calm and self-reflective just about everyone was. Some people got emotional when talking about losing their jobs or their marriages, but generally they had a kind of perspective and thoughtfulness about their lives that gives me some hope for mine.
- I was in a really crabby mood when I went out to see the movie, and when it was over I felt great. I got a fish taco at Taco Del Mar (okay, but still not as good as the place in Capitola) and drove home in a blissful haze of other people's lives.