Review of “The Up Documentaries”

Review of “The Up Documentaries(ˌdäkyəˈment(ə)rē)”

By Roger Ebert

The “Up” documentaries, they’re called. Every seven years, the British director Michael(ˈmīk(ə)l) Apted revisits (rēˈvizit) a group of people whose lives he has been chronicling(ˈkränək(ə)l) since they were children. As he chats with them about how things are going, his films penetrate(ˈpenəˌtrāt) to the central(ˈsentrəl) mystery(ˈmist(ə)rē) of life, asking the same questions that Wim Wenders poses in “Wings of Desire”: Why am I me and why not you? Why am I here and why not there?

They also strike(strīk) me as an inspired, even noble(ˈnōbəl), use of the film medium(ˈmēdēəm). No other art form can capture so well the look in an eye, the feeling in an expression(ikˈspreSHən), the thoughts that go unspoken between the words. To look at these films, as I have every seven years, is to meditate on the astonishing(əˈstänəSHiNG) fact that man is the only animal that knows it lives in time.

“The child is father of the man,” Wordsworth wrote. That seems literally(ˈlidərəlē) true as we look at these films. The 7-year-olds already reveal(rəˈvēl) most of the elements, good and bad, that flower in later life. Sometimes there are surprises; a girl who is uptight(ˌəpˈtīt) and morose(məˈrōs) at 21, vowing(vou) never to marry, blossoms(ˈbläsəm) in the later films into a cheerful(ˈCHirfəl) wife and mother.