Buice column: From 7 to 63: Film documents the ups and downs of life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 5, 2020

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You may have heard the general truth: “Give me a child until he is 7, and I will give you the man.”

I’ve honestly never given it much thought, but during one of the soggy weekends in a water-logged month of February, we headed to a/perture Cinema in downtown Winston-Salem for a thought-provoking documentary — “63 Up.”

The unique film series actually had its start in 1963 with “7 Up” when a group of 14 ordinary Brit kids were interviewed as part of an ongoing social experiment where they were followed with new installments every seven years.

That brings us to the latest production in 2019 and where these same bright-faced young children have evolved over time. Most of them are now surrounded by their own kids and grandkids and facing senior status — losing their parents and dealing with their own health issues.

One has died, another recently received a diagnosis of throat cancer, and yet another has battled mental illness and homelessness. Many of them, it seems, have gone through divorces. There have been other heartbreaks along the way — and many stories involving love, growth and success as well.

In other words, it provides a snapshot of the ups and downs of life — offering an opportunity to think of our own particular journey and how quickly it happens to us.

Going from 7 to 63 is the better part of a lifetime for most — where as the old saying goes, “the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away.”

It’s amazing to see the physical changes over the years in the film from those days of youth to now being a senior.

You can still see the face of the child to a certain extent now, but there are so many changes in the overall appearance. A good comparison might be like going to a 30-year high school reunion where you see someone for the first time in three decades and wonder what happened to that person over the years (you know, you need the nametag for proper identification) — except this span is 56 years.

The change from that perspective is very obvious in this respect, but what about St. Francis Xavier’s oft-quoted dictum, “Give me a child until he is 7, and I will give you the man?”

Are the personalities and characteristics of people — their overall patterns of feelings, thoughts and behaviors — established early in life, or does their personality change with age? 

My perception has always been that personality traits remain fairly consistent across the lifespan for most. Certainly, a person’s temperament stays similar to what emerged as a young person, although there may be differences in terms of overall development over the years.

Although I haven’t seen any of the earlier installments of the “Up” film series, the latest update pulled together the history of each of the participants, and it seemed most were fairly consistent in their approach with the early days — while factoring in many of the changes in the evolution of life and its circumstances.

It was certainly interesting to see life’s twists and turns of all those involved in what has to be one of cinema’s greatest achievements pulled together by director Michael Apted. My only complaint was the excessive length of the movie — nearly three hours.

That’s far too long, but there was a lot of life to cover.

• • • • •

Wasn’t it wonderful to see a little snow a couple of weeks ago, even if it didn’t amount to much?

When the flakes started to come down on Feb. 20, resulting in an official one inch of the fluffy, white stuff in the Winston-Salem area, I knew it had been a good while since we had a measurable snowfall. As it turned out, it was 432 days since the December 2018 snowfall, which put down more than a foot of snow.

Certainly, the snows are few and far between these days, but I was reminded while reading a recent edition of Our State magazine about what was called “The Blizzard of 1960.”

The story focused on Boone and Watauga County where the mountains were dumped on with seven feet of snow during a six-week period between mid-February and late March.

That was the year locally where we had snow on three straight Wednesdays in March as part of a chain of major snowstorms that hit in successive weeks. By the time it finally ended, more than 33 inches had fallen in Forsyth County, making 1960 the snowiest year on record.