63 Up is the latest episode of the most extraordinary sustained experiment in documentary history. In 1964, director Paul Almond profiled a group of fourteen 7-year-old British children from diverse backgrounds in a program for U.K.’s Granada Television called 7 Up. Since then, 7 Up’s researcher, Michael Apted—who also went on to carve out an eminent career as a transatlantic feature director—has continued to film the subjects every seven years, in a series of avidly followed programs that have allowed British society to watch itself change over decades.

With 63 Up, you wonder whether you’re seeing simply the latest episode in the series, or its culmination: some of the original subjects have dropped out, one has died, all are at an age when they are beginning seriously to contemplate their mortality. One man, facing serious illness, notes that these days he is only focusing on “short-term…



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