56 Up. I had been very excited about the latest installment in the Up series, because I've followed these people for quite some time. I think I've seen most of the versions.
I have to say, 56 Up was the least interesting to me. As the participants in the documentary age, there is something monotonous about their trajectories. The marriages, the divorces, the children, the children growing up... Something seemed a little more superficial to me in this one. I think this has to do with the fact that the director gets more and more footage every seven years, and it must become harder and harder to edit it.
It's still, to me, an inherently interesting and moving project. It's just kind of bittersweet to see people age and to have glimpses into ordinary lives. Also, rather inspiring, many of the participants seemed to come into their own in midlife. A lot were struggling or sullen in their teens and twenties, but around their forties began to flourish in different ways. They just began to seem more comfortable in their own skin. Of course it could just be that they got more comfortable in front of the camera.
One of my favorite aspects was how a number of them talked back to the director, intending to "set the record straight", and address how the documentary is flawed in its depictions, that the public misinterprets what they see, and also how being in the series over the years has had an impact on their lives.