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The latest installment of what I believe is the most meaningful use of film in the history of the medium – 56 UP – enjoys a limited theatrical release in January. I just saw it, and it’s as illuminating and revealing as any documentary you’re ever likely to see.

49 years ago, director Michael Apted chose a group of 7 year olds, chronicled their lives and undeveloped views, and, with stunning dedication, he has returned to film them every 7 years since.

Each member of that group is now 56 years of age, but the glimmer of their child selves remain in varying degrees, even in the midst of a lifetime of family deaths, divorces, and dashed dreams.

This is a series of films that epitomizes what is essential in all great art: it’s the ultimate exploration of what it means to be human.

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