In the original Seven Up (1963) 14 seven-year-old children from vastly different backgrounds were interviewed and every seven years, the director Michael Apted films new material from the original subjects in order to track the changes in their lives.
An evolving project, it is the longest-running documentary project in history and began as a study of the influence of class on schoolchildren in England.This instalment, the seventh, features returnees Tony, Bruce, Sue, Jackie, Suzy, Paul, Simon, Nick, Andrew, John, Lynn, and Neil.
It also incorporates footage from the previous films in order to provide background and ensure that the film stands on its own. A moving and fascinating project, it highlights how interesting ‘normal’ life can be when looked at in a certain way.
Since the first series, each installment has broken down like this:
- Seven Up! (5 May 1964), directed by Paul Almond, narrated by Douglas Keay
- 7 Plus Seven (15 December 1970) and after, directed and narrated by Michael Apted
- 21 Up (9 May 1977)
- 28 Up (20–21 November 1984)
- 35 Up (22 May 1991)
- 42 Up (21–22 July 1998)
- 49 Up (15 and 22 September 2005)
Filming for the next series, 56 Up, is expected in late 2011 or early 2012.
Although it takes some liberties with history, it is a fascinating study of the relationship between two composers in 18th century Vienna – Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), the successful court composer for Emperor Joseph of Austria, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), the child prodigy who, while vulgar and irritating, writes some of the greatest music the world has ever heard.
The film unfolds in a series of flashbacks, as Salieri is consumed with jealously by Mozart’s natural talent, and is unable to accept the knowledge that he will never possess the genius of a man he cannot stand.
It was released in 1984 to widespread and richly deserved acclaim, with the film dominating the Oscars that year, scooping Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.
The visuals and production design are marvellous and unlike some period dramas, it contains a gripping central drama with two powerhouse performances from Abraham and Hulce.
The 3-disc edition includes all of the substantial special features from its standard DVD counterpart, the director’s cut of the film, a bonus compilation CD that contains some of Mozart’s finest music, and a Digital Copy for good measure.
The extras break down like this:
- Audio Commentary: Director Milos Forman and writer Peter Shaffer sit down for an oft-off topic chat about the production, their careers, the research they compiled for the project, and the reasoning behind some of the more controversial decisions they made in regards to the story and their portrayal of Mozart. They cover a bit too much ground from the excellent documentary (more on that gem of a feature in a moment), but they still deliver a breezy, affable commentary with endless details, insights, and anecdotes.
- The Making of Amadeus (SD, 61 minutes): This full-length documentary delves into the complete production, from the genesis of the project, to casting relative unknowns, to shooting on lavish sets that presented their own unique problems, and to the film’s release and reception. It’s a sprawling, thorough behind-the-scenes mammoth that should more than satisfy any fan of Amadeus.
- Special Compilation CD (57 minutes): An 8-track audio CD with music from Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-fields Orchestra. The disc features an arrangement of The Abduction from the Seraglio, Chorus of the Janissaries, and Ein Deutsches Kriegslied; the third movement of Concerto for Two Pianos; Act IV of Le nozze di Figaro; The Magic Flute, Aria No. 14, Queen of the Night; the second movement ofPiano Concerto in D minor; the first movement of Symphonie Concertante; Six German Dances Nos. 1-3; and Act II of Don Giovanni. The set also includes a loose insert detailing each track and notes about its significance.
- Original Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 minutes)
- 36-Page Production Booklet
- Digital Copy Disc
While the supplemental package only consists of a documentary and a commentary, the features’ extensive and informative nature, the inclusion of the hour-long audio CD, and the quality of the 36-page production booklet make this release well worth its cost if you have joined the Blu-ray bandwagon.
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