Michael Apted, a flexible director whose movies have been as various because the James Bond image “The World Is Not Sufficient” and the biographical dramas “Gorillas within the Mist” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” and who made his most lasting mark with the “Up” documentary sequence, which adopted the lives of a bunch of British folks in seven-year intervals for greater than a half century, died on Thursday at his house in Los Angeles. He was 79.
His agent in the US, Roy Ashton, confirmed the dying however didn’t specify a trigger.
Mr. Apted, who was British, was a researcher at Granada Tv in England when he helped decide the 14 kids, all of them 7, who turned the topics of “Seven Up!,” the preliminary documentary within the “Up” sequence, which was directed by Paul Almond and proven on British tv in 1964.
The movie was supposed as a one-off, however Mr. Apted picked up the ball seven years (kind of) later, appearing as director of “7 Plus Seven,” broadcast in England in late 1970, through which he interviewed the identical kids, now at a extra developed stage of life.
Then got here “21 Up” in 1977, “28 Up” in 1984 and so forth, with new installments arriving each seven years, all directed by Mr. Apted. “63 Up” was launched in 2019.
Collectively, the movies turned a serial portrait of a bunch of bizarre folks advancing by life, from childhood by maturity, charting their totally different paths, altering views and numerous fates (one participant, Lynn Johnson, died in 2013). The New York Occasions in 2019 known as it “essentially the most profound documentary sequence within the historical past of cinema.”
The intent of the unique program in 1964 was to have a look at totally different segments of Britain’s class system. Due to Mr. Apted’s persistence, “Up” turned one thing extra.
“I noticed for the primary time, after 20 years on the venture, that I actually hadn’t made a political movie in any respect,” he wrote in 2000. “What I had seen as a big assertion in regards to the English class system was in reality a humanistic doc about the actual problems with life.”
Manohla Dargis, summarizing “63 Up” in The Occasions, wrote, “There’s nice pleasure in revisiting this sequence, seeing who turned out simply effective and generally higher than you may need anticipated or hoped.”
Whereas revisiting “Up” periodically throughout six a long time, Mr. Apted labored in tv and industrial movie.
“Agatha” (1979), a fictional drama in regards to the novelist Agatha Christie, starred Vanessa Redgrave within the title function. Mr. Apted had specific success within the Nineteen Eighties, starting in 1980 with “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” in regards to the nation singer Loretta Lynn, performed by Sissy Spacek, who received the best-actress Oscar.
The following yr he directed the John Belushi-Blair Brown comedy “Continental Divide”; two years later got here the crime drama “Gorky Park,” primarily based on the Martin Cruz Smith novel, starring William Damage. In 1988 there was “Gorillas within the Mist,” the story of the naturalist Dian Fossey; its 5 Oscar nominations included one for Sigourney Weaver, who performed Ms. Fossey.
Mr. Apted’s Nineteen Nineties movies included “Thunderheart” (1992), a thriller with Val Kilmer, and the drama “Nell” (1994), a car for Jodie Foster. Then got here his entry within the James Bond franchise — “The World Is Not Sufficient” (1999), with Pierce Brosnan as agent 007.
In a 2010 interview with The Occasions, Mr. Apted mirrored on his one remorse in regards to the “Up” sequence — that his preliminary alternative of kids was unbalanced, 10 boys however solely 4 women — and the way his decisions of mainstream movies may need been a solution to compensate for that.
“The largest social revolution in my life, rising up in England, has been the change within the function of girls in society,” he mentioned. “We didn’t have civil rights and Vietnam in England, however I feel that individual social revolution is the most important factor, and I missed it by not having sufficient ladies. And since I didn’t have sufficient ladies, I didn’t have sufficient alternative of what choices have been in entrance of girls who have been constructing careers and having households and all this form of stuff.”
He continued: “ every thing from ‘Agatha’ by ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ from ‘Nell’ and “Continental Divide,’ they’re all to do with ladies’s function in society and what ladies need to do to have a task in society, or the alternatives ladies need to make to remain in society or have a voice in society, in each simple and eccentric methods. That’s all the time me. And that, I feel, stems from the sensation that I barely missed out.”
Alex Traub contributed reporting.
An entire obituary will seem shortly.