No filmmaker made me cry more often than Michael Apted.
He could handle most any genre, directed multiple Oscar nominated performances, with Sissy Spacek winning best actress for his Loretta Lynn bio pic, Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
Apted, who passed away last week at the age of 79, did biographies and a Bond film, but was never happier than when he could “put something real, something true” up on the screen. Native American issues were important to him, and he made docs and a feature film touching on that.
“Thunderheart,” “Enigma,” “Amazing Grace,” “Nell,” “Gorillas in the Mist,” “Chasing Mavericks,” “The World is Not Enough” and many other titles put him in rare company as a director — not among the immortals of the top tier, but right below them.
But his true claim to immortality is a classic of British sociology, his “7 Up/28 Up etc.” series, documentaries that caught up with a cross section of British kids every seven years, starting when they were seven, exploring how their childhood lives, upbringing and opportunities, shaped their adulthood.
Those films, made original for British TV, were remarkable lessons in social mobility and immobility, and never failed to bring tears. The last one, “63 Up,” catching us up with people who endured the struggle of life with varying degrees of success, is a life affirming experience.
I interviewed him several times over the years, here’s a link to our first chat. Fascinating man who worked with his heart on his sleeve, often as not.