8 “Then and Now” Documentaries That Transcend Time

The Up series, which has been following a group in seven-year intervals, has a new entry this month, 56 Up. Here are eight documentaries that take the "then and now" concept to new levels.

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Tarnation (2003)

Tarnation tackles themes of growing up, but stands out in a field of autobiographical documentaries.

Through home movie footage and audio created and collected over 20 years, we gain access to Jonathan Caouette’s life, his mentally ill mother (who received a battery of electroshock therapy in her pre-teen years), and his experiences of growing up gay.

Roger Ebert, in his review of the film, compares it to the Up series:

“[The Up series] makes it clear … that the child is indeed the father of the man; every one of its subjects is already, at 7, a version of the adult they would become. Tarnation is like Caouette’s version of that process, in which the young boy, play-acting, dressing up, dramatizing the trauma in his life, is able to deal with it.”

The film was a festival hit in 2004, but was also famously pieced together with a budget of $218.32 using Apple’s free iMovie software, heralding an age of self-documentation and easy access to professional-quality post-production.

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Kapish Singla
Kapish Singla is a Winter 2012 intern with POV Digital. He has previously interned at Cinereach and Rooftop Films. He holds a bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University in anthropology.
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  • joholland

    How can we see this if we missed it on Monday at 9?

  • Montana

    So when do we get to see 56 Up here in the US?  

  • Natalia Wright

    “Gaucho Gypsy”

    The adventures of wild, untamed gypsy lovers who roam in search of

    acceptance and true happiness. The lifestyle is unassuming yet romantic.

    Passionate and nomadic peoples who believe in the power of magic and
    mystery. Can Guillermo the vaquero keep the romance hot and steamy with his gal Veronica…can he tame her wild passion and unbridled needs as a beautiful, sexy woman? Will Veronica conquer Guillermo despite many señoritas vying for his masculine good looks and free-roaming spirit…the dynamic is electrifying. Read this romance filled with adventure, romance, chivalry, and endless passion.

  • Erastes Author

    The Dark Horse
    The shock of feeling the stubble on “Scarlett’s” chin made Captain Rafe nearly drop her, but as this man–this imposter!–lay calmly in his arms, Rafe realised that one thing that had been missing in his life–was a man like Scarlett.  But what would his crew say?

  • Meltremmel

    The Swashbuckler and The Stallion: Rough Seas at Stud Bay

     A love triangle arises after Swashbuckler Swen and his Fair Maiden Meredith are shipwrecked off the coast of Malta in Stud Bay. They befriend a Sensual Stallion named Steven whose sexuality is palpable.

    Neither the Swashbuckler nor the Fair Maiden are aware that the other is also having a steamy affair with Steve until Meredith turns up dead.

    Swen is torn between remorse and elation as he watches as Meredith take her last breath.

    Was it Steve’s jealousy that killed her or is there someone else on the island?

  • Ericdstraus

    The Black Stallion 4: Pirate Love

    A swashbuckling tale of romance and equine beauty, the Black Stallion finds himself once again stranded on a desert island; but as usual, he’s not alone. This time, two shipwrecked pirate lovers must fight to survive in a hostile yet gorgeous environment. Will they turn on one another? Will the Black Stallion fear for his life as the hungry lovers look at him, dreaming of roasting his carcass on a spit? Or will they learn the true meaning of friendship and escape their harrowing ordeal? And why did Johnny Depp pass on being the pirate model for the cover? The answers are all within the pages of The Black Stallion 4: Pirate Love!

  • Barbm1020

    Lusty Rider

    Torn between two compelling passions – to bring honor to his family by riding to victory in this year’s horse race, and to rescue Sylvia from the treacherous enemies who pursued them both – how could Sandor fulfill both heart-pounding desires?

  • Livvy

    Gypsy Surrender

    Ren is brilliant, arrogant and charming – a lethal combination.  Women fall at his feet, no horse has bested him, and in spite of his attempts to live off the land without money, he makes it hand over fist anyway.  But when a chance encounter with the mysterious Rowena awakens his protective impulse, Ren is suddenly in uncharted territory and in danger of surrendering his heart for all time.

  • Astrid Tollefsen

    The Stranger

    In a desperate attempt to get away frrm him,  this mysterious stranger who had been following her for several days since they had danced together in a gypsie show;  she mounted a wild stallion but only rode a few feet until she was thrown onto the beach. As she awoke she saw his eyes gazing at her and felt his arms holding her…
    Petrified she knew not what to do …….until he looked at her with warmth  and said,  I have a secret message for you from your father…. 

  • Melvilla Dewey

    He Sees Me When She’s Sleeping

    Clover and Captain Cole Black are drawn to each other with a
    force that’s hard to deny.  Only her
    status of captive on the Sea Whores and his long-time mistress, the narcoleptic
    Narcissa stand, erm recline in their way.   Can a feisty
    philly and a brooding buccaneer find forever in stolen moments while Narcissa naps?


  • BeccaHunt51

     Wild Gitano Winds
    The “Albemarle”, bobbing in the harbor, was still in sight when Aidan first saw them; the powerful, black stallion and the fragile girl slumped over his back. They had no business being here – where the devil had they come from? As Aidan moved closer, the horse watched him with fearless eyes but offered no resistance as the powerful arms reached up to lift the girl down, cradling her body close. She was warm and alive. Aidan could feel her heart beating, see her soft breasts rising and falling.

    Who was she? What was she doing on this god-forsaken beach that was visited only by pirates such as himself? She stirred, drew in a butterfly sigh and, suddenly, Aidan was staring into the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen. He knew right then he would believe whatever story she told him and would go to the ends of the earth to protect her…

  • Oliwaits

    The Rose of San Marcial

     After the war Florica was left alone, unable to find any trace of her scattered family or her people. But if there’s one thing gypsies know it’s how to survive, and Florica – along with her companion, her horse Sol – is determined to make her own way in the wild North. But she hadn’t counted on finding Carmelo. Carmelo and Florica were childhood playmates, until the day his family left their community without a word. Now he is a man, with a past as mysterious to Florica as the whereabouts of her family. Can a friendship be renewed after so much lost time? And will Florica and Carmelo ever find their way back home?

  • Sally Hanan

    The Dark Protector

    Gabriella has told him all his secrets in one night over a crystal ball, but he has discovered one of hers–she is held captive by the Dark Protector who watches over her every move. Desperate to escape, and haunted yet enigmatically seduced by the look of compassion and desire in Ramon’s eyes, Gabriella considers the unthinkable…. Even her crystal ball can’t save her now.

  • Blhinbis

    Soft porn has hit PBS. Where with this lead to? Is there nothing more to life than this?

  • http://www.facebook.com/SysopMark Mark Van Dyke

    Yes, when is it scheduled to be on PBS?

  • Melissa

    I don’t think anyone answers these question, folks….