Michael Apted’s “56 Up” is the latest in a series of documentaries shot for British television that initially set out to talk about class differences in a radically changing, early ’60s Britain. Taking a group of schoolchildren at seven years old — some rich, some poor, some in-between — he interviewed them about their dreams, ideals, and hopes. Since that first film — grainy, black and white, very much post-war Britain — Mr. Apted has returned to the same group every seven years for a follow-up doc, named after their age: “21 Up”, “35 Up” etc. In between these films, Mr. Apted has made a career as a director of Hollywood films both pop corny — “The World Is Not Enough” — and award worthy — “Gorillas in the Mist” and “Nell.” But the “7Up” series will be his lasting monument.
At 72, he’s still checking in with the group, and “56 Up” — which screens at Campbell Hall this Monday and features Q&A with Mr. Apted — finds the cast mostly enjoying their middle years. It’s not as gloomy as one would think.