Monday, November 7, 2011

Following Sean (2007)

Directed by Ralph Arlyck. Choose to respond to either this documentary or the following week's selection, Regret to Inform.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. From Jessica W:

    If this class, and this documentary has shown me anything about the decade of the 1960's, is that change is constant, yes; But life.. life remains the same. Everyone has a childhood, struggles with what path they want their life to take to a certain extent during adulthood, and nobody escapes aging. I feel that those inhabitants of the Haight tried to break free from the chain of an American capitialistic society, but even that doesnt make them any different from all those revolutionaries throughout time, attempting to change their enviornment, or those who live in it. This documentary is hands down my favorite thus far. I will try to explain why..
    In regards to how a film is shot, and in turn produced, Following Sean throughly impressed me. The real life footage from decades ago, drew contrast to how much times have changed since, but also gave the viewer a more realistic connection with sean, his family, and the narrator. After the interview of sean as a child, paired with scenes of him running wild and free in the Haight (as in my opinion children should still be capable of doing), the viewer builds a bond. Another example of the way I feel that Ralph, the narrator, helps to pull on the heartstrings of his viewers, futhering the imaginary bond, can be seen in one of the last clips of the film. Ralph goes back and forth in a "flashback" manner between clips of sean swinging as a child, then sean pushing alex, his son, on a swingset decades later. This also helps to emphasize my previous statements about change being ever constant, but the normality of the majority of American life staying the same.
    It is not often that I am so compelled but what I am being shown that I simply do not want to jot down notes, for fear of missing out on something in the film. However, last thursday in class, this was the case. My normal 3 to 4 pages of scribble was replaced by a feeling of explosive and awkward entertainment. I chose to use the adjective awkward because in self-reflection, I do find it a little odd that I cared so much about the somewhat "normal" lives of complete strangers. Just another case in point on how fabulous of a job Ralph did in fitting the pieces of film clips, to form a beautiful puzzle of a documentary. As usual, I could go on forever but I wont. The end (:

  3. From Amanda D:

    "Following Sean" is a documentary film written and directed by Ralph Arlyck about a young boy named Sean who spent his adolescent years in the 1960s with his free-spirited family. The documentary starts out with Arlyck interviewing the four year old Sean on his couch and following him around during the day. Sean talks to Arlyck about using marijuana and his family's lifestyle. This part of the film was called "Sean", and it was released in the 60s. The film got a lot of popularity because of the environment Sean was in with the drugs, sex, and partying. After many years, Arlyck wanted to interview and follow Sean around again to see how his life turned out. Arlyck interviewed Sean's family first and then met Sean at the same place he filmed him when he was a four year old. Sean's "free-spirited" lifestyle had changed drastically. He was now in his thirties and belonged with society more. Arlyck follows Sean and his new life for awhile; Sean and his job, his new wife, and then eventually Sean has his own son. This documentary wasn't my favorite of all the others we've watched in class. There were a few moments I had tears in my eyes. There were other films we watched and I got emotional, but for some reason this one was different. I thought there was more reality to it. His life had changed drastically since he was a toddler, everyone's life does, but it seemed like he didn't agree with how he grew up and it seemed like he wanted to break away from it and be more like the rest of society. It seemed like Sean didn’t want to end up like his dad at all. His dad lived in the woods, with no job and still in a way lived how he did back in the 60s. This film pretty much shows that, even if a person is raised a certain way, it doesn’t mean that the person will be the exact same person. Sean definitely has a mind of his own, and his own opinions.

  4. From Julien B:

    I think it was an amazing documentary because it shows us what real life is about . It was kind of depressing in a way, since we dont know by the end if sean made it in realizing his dream or not but he had a hard working ethic since he was very young, since he was taught how to use tools when he was about 7 years old, according to what I saw in the documentary . I thought it was sad to see that it seems that no body was really exited about living life and having goals . The Russian girlfriend that become his wife was not fitting in this particular type of lifestyle that they were in... he said at the end of the documentary as he was running outside with her that she was really looking at the nice houses and nice cars and all the idolize things of western society which seems to be opposite with what Sean grow up with in term of philosophical perspective .
    He said :'Im gone have to step it up if I want to keep her around or Im gone loose her, I can not just be sitting on my ass doing nothing, I got to keep moving".
    He said that she had a fresh immigrant mentality which means working very hard to pursue the american dream or material dream as some other would call it .
    I thought it was sad that he had to give johnny some money to make it home with his car that was out of gaz towards the end of the film . Sean had changed alot from growing in a communist environment and influenced more or less by communist ideologies ... we see him becoming more oriented towards capitalism as he mention that what work for his dad in terms of way of life had made his dad not happy but content, and he said "but thats what work for him", kind of distancing himself from this type of views that he once shared as well as he was younger . The point of the documentary mark the separation from the end of the 60's cultural movement into a new kind of style emerging. Many bluecollar hard working middle class started to make alot of money soon after that era with construction booming etc ... increase in labor pay and many changes that came out of the 70's and 80's struggle ...that sean generation started to have a different outlook on the previously 60's hippy culture . I enjoy the reality and real life story of this documentary .

  5. Throughout the many documentaries that we have watched in this class, most of them have been pretty current films that have looked back at an aspect of the 1960’s. Following Sean on the other hand was looking at an individual soul and how they grew up after starting off in the time of revolution and change. Considering where Sean grew up in the middle of a revolutionizing San Francisco and across the street from Charles Manson, I would say that the kid’s only hope in life was to grow up into exactly what surrounds him on a daily basis. I mean at the age of four this child had already smoked “grass,” and knew that some people that had stayed at his house were speed freaks because they were “so skinny.” From what I can tell he had a pretty good understanding of his surroundings at that age and must carry some of these thoughts and actions with him as an adult, but my hypothesis was incorrect. The only trait that I saw him still have as an adult was the ability to work with his hands. His father was and still is a carpenter where he is an electrician, now the way that Sean views his work is much different from his father’s. Sean grows up to be a working class man with a wife and a kid and knows that money is a necessity in this new world to survive and provide for your family, his father on the other hand thinks that the simple things in life matter more than acres of land. This documentary of reality is a breath of fresh air in a time of fake reality television, the thought of where we’re at and where we want to be is fully expressed in this documentary. One quote from this documentary really stuck with me and made me think about life in general, “world, work, and family one has to take center stage.”

  6. From Austin M:

    Following Sean is more of a case study then a documentary. Ralph Arlyck follows Sean from a young age, the age of four to be precise, and asks Sean his views on marijuana and running around the Haight Ashbury. Sean gives off the impression that in thirty years he will be just another drug using hippy wondering just aimlessly in life. Ralph’s short on Sean’s life was produced in the late 1960’s, it gained much fame and was even viewed at the White House, however it left every viewer wondering what would become of Sean, would he become a hippy after being exposed to everything at the Haight Ashbury or would he turn into something else altogether. This question is the reason Ralph decided to find Sean later in life when Sean was around 30.
    Sean at an older age is completely different from young Sean. Young Sean didn’t have a care in the world; he ran around the streets of Haight Ashbury barefoot and talked to the dope heads that lived in his apartment complex. Old Sean has a job that he works very hard at; he is currently single and worries about his bills. Older Sean worries about his dad who got divorced from his mom, his dad still lives the Haight Ashbury style of life, with no job and living in a RV, enjoying life as much as he can. Sean sees the way his dad is and does not want to be like him, so he focuses on his job and tries to find love with a Russian woman he met. They eventually get married.
    Sean has a son, Alex, and Ralph captures their moments together. Sean and his wife eventually separate, and Sean is left with Alex, much like Sean was left with his dad when his mother divorced him. This shows that life is just a vicious circle and that Sean is following in his father’s footsteps. This documentary interests me because it shows Sean growing up, he is shown as a young child and is completely different once he hits adulthood and has to worry about bills and Alex. The same can be said about most people, when we are young we are care free but when we grow up and are faced with reality we have to change our ways in order to support ourselves