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I am always hesitant about watching documentaries, I'm afraid that the narrative aspect will be overtaken by the educational and factual aspect. The purpose of most documentaries are to show the life of a person or the impact of an event or the importance of an idea. Won't You Be My Neighbor? did everything with perfection. I assume the reason it was so narrative as a documentary, was because it was based off a TV show. But it wasn't just the fact that it was based off a TV show that made it narrative, it portrayed Fred Rogers' beliefs and kindness in such an innocent and important way. It showed the life of Fred Rogers in a way I never knew. I grew up watching Mister Roger's Neighborhood, not as much as my parents, but I remember being transported to the kingdom of King Friday all the time as a kid. I felt like I was on a journey through the life of Fred Rogers, and I never wanted to leave. Morgan Neville has a created a diamond out of this story and in such an important time where sadness and anger rule the world. He did justice in showing the impact Fred Rogers had on children and people by also portraying the effect that he had on culture and Christianity.
Margaret Whitmer: "If you take all of the elements that make good television and do the exact opposite, you have "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood". Low production values, simple set, an unlikely star. Yet, it worked."
This movie stayed true to what it was, a story about Fred Rogers and his life. A big part of his life was his show. I have a big thank you to Morgan Neville, for making a great decision. He didn't edit the film very much to make it "tailor" to the color and resolution that is today's film industry. I felt like a kid again watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. He kept the transition from black and white to color seamless, and kept the difference between the old film and current interviews of Fred Rogers' closest people clear. It brought back nostalgia, which is what a film like this should bring to the viewer.
"Won't You Be My Neighbor?"
I loved the soundtrack for this movie because it really stayed true to the music of the show. Listening to Mister Rogers sing the classic theme songs "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" and "It's Such a Good Feeling" really brought back a lot of memories. They also kept a lot of the music from the original show, for example the track that represented King Friday was put in. It was a great addition to an already nostalgic film. But it's not just that. The soundtrack was filled will plucks of beautifully played stringed instruments, as well as a xylophone sounding instrument being played at many times. The piano ballads really showed the influence that music had in Fred Rogers' life. Some of the soundtrack had a sort of mysterious sound to it, which brought the story to life in a way. We are on a journey to find what made Mister Rogers tick, and this music brought us on the journey.
Mister Rogers' Revolution
Fred Rogers was a revolutionary. He took concepts that were hard for children to understand and taught in such an easy and thoughtful manner. He loved people. He loved children the most, but he understood the importance to reach out to an older demographic. He taught people kindness, love, and empathy all for God's glory. As he was a proclaimed Christian, he didn't use it in his show in order to reach people of all kinds. While this could be viewed as bad, I view it as careful and understandable. Fred Rogers was not only a man that taught children lessons of kindness, but lessons that the world itself was struggling. Issues such as racism, divorce, and death were all things Fred Rogers took to his show to teach kids. The man changed what the idea of evangelism was in the church. He was a man that was silly, but still though-provoking. He was smart and sensitive, and used his love for children to be a light. He had integrity, and wanted everyone to be the best they could be. There is no doubt in my mind, that Fred Rogers revolutionized culture, Christianity, and television forever.
Fred Rogers: "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."
This has to be my favorite documentary I have ever seen and if the Oscars are not rigged, this will win Best Documentary Feature. It did everything a good documentary should. It showed us the facts, but also the person. It showed the effect that he had on society. It showed us why Fred Rogers was a man that changed the lives of people across the world.
Fred Rogers: "The greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they're loved and capable of loving."
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