It is remarkable how things have changed in the last 15 years. At the beginning of the new academic year I am overwhelmed and recall the times when I started looking at ageing and the cinema. People were surprised and shocked when I outed myself as ‘old’. The reaction to me wanting to research films about older women was no less pitying. I had two avenues to explore: ageing and films. It was so easy. Little material online, a few learned papers and books. Films were few and far between but not always available to watch on videos. For cinephiles What Happened to Baby Jane was the only one that came to mind.
September 20013 and I am already drowning in a tsunami of conferences, seminars, workshops, new books, academic papers, general press articles. Old people are on the agenda everywhere. And yes in films too. The seniors are being catered for. Judy Dench ‘à toutes les sauces”. Stereotyped Maggie Smith also. Feel good films about ageing. Senior matinees at local cinemas with free tea and biscuit. The BFI free afternoon sessions.
Although I do not usually write about TV or documentaries, I must mention last night’s Channel 4 Fabulous Fashionistas. I was reluctant to view it being rather blasée about such programmes. It did not do – what I thought it would – solely concentrate on the appearance of the women and discuss their clothes. It presented us with 6 women ‘with an average age of 80’ (publicity definition ????). Five of them were physically very fit and were shown actually exercising. There was a peer, a theatre director, a model, an artist, a shop worker, an activist against ageism. The six were extremely interesting characters full of energy and joie de vivre in spite of hip and knee replacements, serious illness, loss of loved ones and a consciousness of death.
If you have not seen the programme it is still available on catch up on 4.
Please Sue Bourne more programmes showing us, the 70+, in all our diversities.