Directed by Morgan Neville
This film was directed by Morgan Neville (The Music of Strangers). It offers a number of interviews by many of the people involved with bringing Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to life over 31 seasons and 912 episodes. The documentary also benefits from a wealth of archive footage from Fred’s life on television and off.
This documentary feels like a personal tour of the wonderful world that Fred Rogers inhabited. The film pulls from his unique and somewhat challenging childhood as well as the later years when he found his passion for helping children. Throughout the movie there are wonderful interviews with family and friends. Their insights are sometimes a little shocking, often very heartfelt, and always feel honest. There is a lot of laughter to be found in this one as well.
In addition to his personal life and work, the documentary also looks at many of the social issues that Fred attempted to tackle. He was fearless when it came to addressing issues like death, loss, divorce, and even prejudice. (Keep in mind, he was talking to children.) His honest approach to the subjects allowed him to communicate with his target audience in an incredibly effective way. He was also a strong believer in the way that public television could be a positive influence in society.
I was a child of the 1980s, and television was a big part of that. Within the world of children’s shows there was nothing like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Each time he walked into his television home, I was ready to see what he might want to teach that day. Sometimes it was an inside look at a factory or an honest conversation between him and his audience. I grew up believing that the Mister Rogers I saw on television was really a good person. This movie confirms that belief. If you grew up with Mister Rogers, you should make sure to see this. I would also suggest this to anyone interested in the history of children’s television.I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.