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Won't You Be My Neighbor? Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

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Won't You Be My Neighbor?



Fred Rogers used puppets and play to explore complex social issues: race, disability, equality and tragedy, helping form the American concept of childhood. He spoke directly to children and they responded enthusiastically. Yet today, his impact is unclear. Have we lived up to Fred's ideal of good neighbors?

Focus Features , Impact Partners , Tremolo Productions
Director of Photography , Editor , Editor



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'WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR': Four Stars (Out of Five)A documentary on the life and career of Fred Rogers, the host of 'MR ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD'. It was directed by Morgan Neville (a veteran director of documentary films). The movie has received nearly unanimous positive reviews from critics, and it's a huge hit at the Box Office as well (for a documentary that is). I enjoyed it.Morgan Neville examines the life, career, and philosophy of Fred Rogers (from the time he first started his classic TV show). Neville interviews Rogers, and many other celebrities who knew him, including former guests from his show. The film really depicts what Rogers was trying to do with his seemingly very simple and kid oriented TV show. His mission was always one of pure love and compassion, the film easily demonstrates. The movie is definitely really positive and sweet; pretty much everything you'd expect a documentary about Mr. Rogers to be like. It does go a little deeper into his philosophy (on why he did the things he did, and what he hoped to accomplish) than I had previously known before. I really respect the film for that, and I respect Fred Rogers a bit more than I previously did as well. The movie is very slow-paced though, and at times a little boring.

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A lot of times, the breadth or reach of a documentary depends on how large of an audience it can appeal to. So many times, documentaries focus on a niche subject with a similarly small viewership base. "Won't You Be My Neighbor" is able to bypass this problem, however, but focusing on a man that seemingly everybody knows: Fred Rogers.For a basic overview, "Neighbor" follows both the life/career of Fred Rogers, as well as setting that in parallel to his iconic "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" show on public television. Rogers' family (including his wife and two sons) are interviewed, as well as those who worked on and starred in the show with him.In a political and social climate where hate and "mean-ness" seem to spew from every nook and cranny, "Neighbor" provides the perfect hour-and-a-half balm for that, as one of the strong suits here is showing just how genuinely "nice" of a man Fred Rogers was (which is what inevitably came out in the show and ultimately made it such a treasure). It was also interesting to learn that Mr. Rogers was an ordained minister, voted Republican, and championed inclusion and equal rights his entire life. Those things don't necessarily track in today's world, so it is nice to see someone who wasn't "one or the other"."Neighbor" is equally fascinating on how Fred's show was so different than anything else on the air (public or otherwise) at that time. He practically saved the entire public television model (testifying before a commission about its worth), and then used it to tackle issues that are difficult for children to deal with, talking to them in a very straightforward yet kind way. He was absolutely fearless in this respect, also using silence and slow-pacing to intentionally counter-act the "pie in the face" and action/adventure Saturday morning kiddie fare he so despised.Overall, this is a documentary that will strike a chord with nearly every one of its viewers. Practically everyone on this Earth knows something about Mr. Rogers, and for so many of those people he spoke directly to them (through the television) on a consistent basis. It's supremely emotional, incredibly informative, and just a refreshing reminder of the simple (yet extraordinary) value of human decency and kindness.

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