The landmark Up documentary series, which has followed several Britons at seven-year intervals throughout their lives, is one of the cornerstones of U.K. cinema. Most filmgoers connect the franchise to British director Michael Apted, who took the reins of the series starting with the second film, 1970’s Seven Plus Seven. But Canadian filmmaker Paul Almond directed the 1964 film, Seven Up, that started it all. Almond died today (April 16) at age 83 due to complications from a recent heart attack, the New York Times reports.
Almond developed the idea of Seven Up with a producer from the U.K. production house Granada and set out to do a one-off look at the British class system seen through the eyes of seven year-olds. Little did he know that his work would be the spark for one of the deepest explorations of time and humanity in all of film:
Apted, Almond’s researcher and assistant on Seven Up, introduced the concept of revisiting the students every seven years, most recently with 56 Up in 2012:
Almond ventured into art film after Seven Up, directing a trilogy of films with his wife Genevieve Bujold in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Later in life, he became a successful novelist. Here’s an interview with Almond with his hometown paper the Montreal Gazette in 2014: