Diane Murrell

Written by Diane Murrell

Modified & Updated: 05 Mar 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

Source: Justwatch.com

42 Up is a groundbreaking and captivating documentary series that has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. This unique film follows the lives of a group of British individuals who were first interviewed at the age of 7 and then revisited every seven years thereafter. Created by filmmaker Michael Apted, 42 Up provides an unprecedented look into the lives, hopes, and dreams of its subjects as they navigate the ever-changing landscape of adulthood. Spanning over half a century, this thought-provoking series offers a remarkable sociological study by capturing the transformation and development of these individuals over time. In this article, we will delve into 34 fascinating facts about the movie 42 Up that will give you a deeper appreciation for this extraordinary documentary series.

Key Takeaways:

  • “42 Up” is a documentary film that follows the lives of 14 individuals from diverse backgrounds, capturing their joys, struggles, and growth over the years in a raw and authentic way.
  • The “Up” series, including “42 Up,” has had a profound impact on documentary filmmaking, inspiring filmmakers to explore long-term character development and narratives, resonating with audiences across generations.
Table of Contents

The Beginnings:

The documentary film “42 Up” is the seventh installment in the groundbreaking “Up” series, which began in 1964.

Michael Apted:

The film was directed by Michael Apted, who took over the series from its original director, Paul Almond, after the second installment.

The Seven-Year Gap:

Each film in the series takes place exactly seven years after the previous one, giving viewers a unique and intimate look into the lives of its subjects.

The Subjects:

The film follows the lives of 14 individuals from diverse backgrounds who were first interviewed at the age of seven in the first film of the series, “Seven Up!”

Lifelong Relationships:

The bond between the subjects and Apted is a key aspect of the series, with Apted forming a deep connection and trust with each participant.

Reflections on Childhood:

One of the recurring themes in “42 Up” is the participants’ reflection on their childhood dreams and aspirations, and how they compare to their current realities.

Milestone Ages:

Each installment of the series captures the participants at significant milestones in their lives, such as turning 14, 21, 28, and so on.

Social Class Observations:

“42 Up” continues the exploration of social class and its impact on the lives of the participants, highlighting the stark differences in opportunities and experiences.

Individual Stories:

Throughout the film, we delve into the personal stories of each participant, witnessing their triumphs, challenges, and growth over the years.

Vulnerability and Authenticity:

The participants’ willingness to open up and share their joys, struggles, and vulnerabilities provides a raw and authentic portrayal of their lives.

Impact on Documentary Filmmaking:

The “Up” series has had a profound impact on the field of documentary filmmaking, influencing filmmakers to explore long-term character development and narratives.

Critical Acclaim:

“42 Up” and the entire “Up” series have received widespread critical acclaim for their thought-provoking content and innovative storytelling approach.

International Recognition:

The series has gained recognition worldwide and has been screened at prestigious film festivals and events.

Emotional Connection:

Viewers often develop a strong emotional connection to the participants, eagerly awaiting each new installment to see how their lives have unfolded.

Life’s Ups and Downs:

“42 Up” showcases the inevitable ups and downs that life brings, giving viewers a sense of the unpredictability and resilience of the human experience.

Surprising Career Paths:

The film explores the unexpected career paths that some of the participants have taken, challenging societal expectations and stereotypes.

Evolving Perspectives:

“42 Up” offers a fascinating insight into how the participants’ perspectives on life, love, and success have evolved over the course of the series.

Family Dynamics:

The film delves into the complex dynamics of the participants’ families, showcasing the impact of relationships and upbringing on their lives.

Personal Achievements:

Many participants have achieved personal milestones throughout the series, ranging from academic successes to fulfilling personal goals.

Societal Changes:

Throughout the series, “42 Up” captures the societal changes and historical events that have shaped the lives of the participants.

Never-Ending Story:

The “Up” series is a never-ending story, documenting the lives of its participants as they approach their later years.

Timeless Themes:

The film explores timeless themes of love, friendship, identity, and the pursuit of happiness, resonating with audiences across generations.

Award-Winning Documentary:

“42 Up” and the “Up” series have received numerous awards and accolades, recognizing their importance and contribution to the documentary genre.

Captivating Interviews:

The interviews conducted in “42 Up” are deeply insightful, capturing the essence of each participant and shedding light on their unique experiences.

Emotional Journeys:

The participants’ emotional journeys are at the heart of “42 Up,” allowing viewers to empathize with their joys, sorrows, and personal growth.

The Power of Long-Term Documentation:

The series demonstrates the power of long-term documentary filmmaking in capturing the essence of human lives and their evolution over time.

Unscripted and Unfiltered:

Unlike fictional films, “42 Up” presents unscripted and unfiltered stories, making it a genuine and honest portrayal of the participants’ lives.

Time Capsule:

The “Up” series serves as a time capsule, documenting the social, cultural, and political changes that have shaped the participants’ lives.

Unprecedented Project:

The longevity and scope of the “Up” series make it an unprecedented project, immersing viewers in a real-life narrative that spans over five decades.

Bonds Beyond the Screen:

The participants and Apted have formed enduring bonds beyond the screen, with Apted being present at significant moments in their lives.

Inspirational Documentaries:

The “Up” series has inspired countless documentaries and filmmakers to explore the long-term development of characters as a storytelling technique.

Global Cultural Impact:

The “Up” series has transcended borders and cultural boundaries, resonating with audiences across the globe.

Reflections on Aging:

As the participants age in “42 Up,” the film explores their reflections on getting older and the changing dynamics of their lives.

The Legacy Continues:

“42 Up” is but one chapter in the ongoing legacy of the “Up” series, cementing its place in the history of documentary filmmaking.

These 34 facts about the movie 42 Up showcase the remarkable journey of the participants and the impact of the series as a whole. With its unique concept and long-term character development, the “Up” series has become a cultural phenomenon, captivating audiences and offering a profound exploration of life, growth, and human connection.


In conclusion, “42 Up” is an extraordinary documentary series that offers a unique and captivating glimpse into the lives of a group of individuals over a span of 42 years. The film provides a thought-provoking exploration of the human experience, showcasing the triumphs, struggles, and growth of its subjects. With its compelling storytelling and honest portrayal of life’s ups and downs, “42 Up” has become a seminal piece of documentary filmmaking, leaving a lasting impact on both audiences and filmmakers alike. Whether you’re a fan of the series or new to it, “42 Up” is definitely worth watching for its powerful storytelling and its ability to make us reflect on our own lives.


Q: What is “42 Up”?

A: “42 Up” is a renowned documentary series directed by Michael Apted. It follows the lives of a group of British individuals, starting from age 7 and revisiting them every seven years until they reach adulthood.

Q: How many movies are there in the “Up” series?

A: The “Up” series currently consists of 9 films, starting from “Seven Up!” released in 1964 and concluding with “63 Up” released in 2019.

Q: Is it necessary to watch the previous movies in the series to understand “42 Up”?

A: While it is helpful to watch the previous films in the series to fully appreciate the character development and life trajectories, “42 Up” can be enjoyed as a standalone documentary as well.

Q: What sets “42 Up” apart from other documentaries?

A: “42 Up” stands out for its long-term perspective and its intimate portrayal of the human experience. It offers a unique and unprecedented look into the lives of its subjects, spanning over four decades, creating a powerful connection between the audience and the characters.

Q: How can I watch “42 Up”?

A: “42 Up” and the other films in the “Up” series are widely available on various streaming platforms, DVD, or can be purchased online or at select video rental stores.

Q: Is “42 Up” suitable for all audiences?

A: “42 Up” is suitable for a wide range of audiences. However, it does touch on sensitive topics such as personal challenges and socio-economic issues, so viewer discretion is advised.

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