Age 7 in America

ImageI learn something new everyday or at least I hope so. Today, I learned that America tried its hand at an Up Series documentary. Inspired by the British series, the American series began with Age 7 in America, a documentary about a group of 7 years olds living in different sections of the country. The series has only made it to Age 21 in America (Age 28 would be due out next year), but none of these films can be easily found.

I was tipped off about this series while talking to my tattoo artist friend Julio. He asked me to track down a documentary he saw many years ago that featured a kid from Milwaukee, along with many other kids. I’m not certain if Age 7 in America is the film he saw, as no character appears to be from Milwaukee. Though one cute, but confused child informs the audience that if he could live anywhere he’d live in Milwaukee because there is only one cop in all of Milwaukee.

You can watch the film here, on Vimeo

The video is introduced by Meryl Streep. I’d be curious to see the whole series, though it doesn’t look as interesting as its British counterpart. Though, I also learned that many other countries have tried this form of documentary series.

Edward Muybridge, Zoopraxographer

Someone has posted this rarely seen documentary about Eadward Muybridge, the forefather to motion photography. The great American film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum called this one of the Top 100 American Films of all time. However, the film is rarely screened and not something you will find on DVD or on demand. Take advantage of this opportunity to indulge in a most fascinating and meditative examination of cinema’s earliest images and the personal history of man who brought still imagery to life.

ZOOPRAXOGRAPHER João Enxuto on Vimeo.

One of the best essay films ever made on a cinematic subject, Thom Andersen’s remarkable and sadly neglected hour-long documentary (1974) adroitly combines biography, history, film theory, and philosophical reflection. Muybridge’s photographic studies of animal locomotion in the 1870s were a major forerunner of movies; even more interesting are his subsequent studies of diverse people, photographed against neutral backgrounds. Andersen’s perspectives on Muybridge are multifaceted and often surprising (characteristically, the film’s opening quotation is from Mao), and he presents Muybridge’s photographic sequences in various ways to spell out the many meanings of this fascinating precinematic work. – Jonathan Rosenbaum