If there’s a film that our country needs more than ever right now it’s Won't You Be My Neighbor?, the powerful documentary film about Mister Rogers. He was an incredible person who showed the world how love and kindness always prevail.
“Love is at the root of everything - all learning, all parenting, all relationships. Love or the lack of it. And what we see and hear on the screen is part of who we become.” Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is the best documentary of 2018. The doc takes an honest look at Mister Fred Rogers' life and legacy during his time on WQED. Mister Rogers was a Children's television pioneer, a puppeteer, a Presbyterian minister and a registered Republican (with morals). He was a radical, who fought for the arts and for education to be available to children everywhere, no matter the circumstance. He believed a neighborhood was suppose to be a safe haven for children growing up. Through his gentleness, Mister Rogers helped transform our country and the world. His message still resonates today. Mister Rogers was also a creative genius who inspired generations of children through his compassion and limitless imagination on the television. His show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, aired from 1968 – 2001 on WQED in Pittsburgh, PA.
Director Morgan Neville (Best Of Enemies) takes us on a journey from the start of Fred Rogers' career, 1968, until his death in 2003. Neville takes his time with the camera, letting the story unfold beautifully before our very eyes. You’ll be in tears by the end of this doc, I know I was. Neville also takes us behind-the-scenes of Mister Rogers’ daily life and in-between the outtakes of his famous television show. Here, we explore the life, lessons and legacy of a gifted man, who was also a selfless human being. Fred Rogers was soft-spoken, yet he expressed profound ideas. He wasn't afraid to talk about hard subjects with children and even explored different ways to think about them. Something, no other children’s show dared to do at the time. He was a sweet-tempted individual all throughout his life and his career. On set, Mister Rogers was also an idealist day in and day out.
“From the time you were very little, you've had people who have smiled you into smiling, people who have talked you into talking, sung you into singing, loved you into loving. So, on this extra special day, let's take some time to think of those extra special people. Some of them may be right here, some may be far away. Some may even be in heaven. No matter where they are, deep down you know they've always wanted what was best for you. They've always cared about you beyond measure and have encouraged you to be true to the best within you. Let's just take a minute of silence to think about those people now.”
It’s an invitation waiting to be opened. To travel to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe or to talk with Daniel Striped Tiger. Mister Rogers knew the best way to teach children in-person and on-air. He provoked strong ideas and even spoke to the US Senate Subcommittee on Communications to keep funding open for PBS in 1969. He was a man on a mission, that mission was to share love with others and then for them to spread that love they just learned. This documentary receives all five stars from me and is one of my favorite movies of 2018. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? offers us hope for our country, befriending all who choose to watch this intimate documentary of a good-hearted person – sneakers and all.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For some thematic elements and language.