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Lucky 7’s

October 17, 2010

There is something special about the number 7.

Books are filled with many references to the power of this number.  From religions of every creed to science and art, the number 7 has had a powerful foothold deep in the center of our culture.

Perhaps it was for this reason, then, that a British filmmaker named Michael Apted chose to document the entire lives of fourteen children so closely.  Starting in 1964 (when they were all seven years old) and every seven years since, he has released a movie doing just that.  The result- 7 films collectively titled “The Up Series”.

It’s hard to summarize 7 movies.  In fact, these movies are really just one long story, without a fixed end.  The story itself is alive.  It lives and breathes and walks a distinct path, every decision made by every person part of an endless array of nested circumstances.  Following the life of one can be a daunting task.  Following the life of so many is a true achievement of dizzying proportions.

When it is exhausted, it slumbers like the dragon under the mountain; like the cicada deep underground.

It awakens every 7 years- and like all good rest is stronger for it.

To say that this was the best movie-watching experience of my life would not only be true, but it would also be be a disservice to the experience.

To that end, this isn’t so much a review of the movies, but a review of the effect that they have had on my life.

When I was a boy, like all boys I imagined I would be an astronaut.  Or a firefighter.  At a certain age, I could not see myself as anything but what I had dreamed.  I would lay away at night, on top of my wooden bunkbed, under the blanket with Ruyard Kipling’s Just So Stories in one hand and a plastic Duracell flashlight in the other.  I dreamed of faraway places under the sea and beyond the sun.  I wondered where I would be and what I would be doing in 5 years, 10 years, 20.  There would always be fires to put out.  Planets and stars to explore.  I was the man for the job.

It was incredible to feel that way again.  To get so invested in the people in this story, to wonder endlessly about what they would do and how they would end up, I felt as if I was a boy again, staring out at the horizon of my life, endless paths before me.

Every day we see a million people in a million places.  Most we regard with nothing more than a passing thought, for we will never see them again.  There are those that share our path, some closer than others.  The lady on your bus route with the funny hat, a runner who plods the same course every morning as you make your way to the highway.  It is then that they begin to capture our imagination.  The closer they orbit the sun of our consciousness, the more we begin to wonder- Who are you?  Where do you go?  What do you do?  What course will your life take?  Where did it begin and where will it end?

Some of the people in these films went on to do just those things I had imagined.  Others went off and made their own way, in directions entirely unbound by my notions.  Still others drifted aimlessly, coming to a crossing in the road where they paused for a time.  Some moved on, and some did not.  Not yet, anyway.  I guess only time can tell.  For now, the giant sleeps.


It would be a nearly impossible task to present my life in the format of the movie, but I have nonetheless made a small offering.

I present to you- our lives in pictures, starting at 5, then going to 7 and continuing every seven years.  Enjoy!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Judy Durante permalink
    October 22, 2010 8:30 pm

    Wow what a difference. You both look wonderful and were beautiful children.

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