The man who understood the vulnerability of childhood, the man who helped us love ourselves and our neighbors, and the man who Introduced us to each snappy, new day through a warm welcome with a serenade at the start of each episode, Mister Rogers. This man who revolutionized children’s television and was a prime example of humanity had just recently had his life and moral intentions transformed into a beautiful, moving biopic by the name of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”.
This 1 hour 34 minute long movie is concise, yet packed with meaning and depth of thought. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” was fabricated from footage of Mister Rogers interviews, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, behind the scenes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and modern interviews of people he was associated with. Laced throughout the lovely cinematography lay a symbolic animation of Daniel the Tiger, a puppet Mister Rogers used in Mister Rogers neighborhood to represent himself. In this movie, the animated tiger represents Fred Rogers’ emotions and mental healthAt the time Fred Rogers was introduced to television, he felt that TV was misused in terms of how it wasn’t beneficial to children. The entertainment for children on TV was insignificant such as pies being thrown in faces, so he wanted to use TV as a tool to help others. In this way of utilizing TV, he felt that he could have a relationship with his audience (kids) without having to jump through a hoop or put on a funny hat. He believed that children deserved more from television. Mister Rogers expressed that, “What we see and hear on the screen is who we become.” Due to the constant changes in technology and entertainment, time was speeding up, but Mister Rogers used time differently. He used it to exponentially improve the young minds of America through love, acceptance, and understanding. Through children’s television, he had the chance to build a community out of a whole country. He did this by helping kids through difficult modulations in life. He used the mass media to help children. For example, he dealt with real-life events in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood such as the assassination of JFK, the Vietnam War, and segregation. Through his 10 puppets, he helped children grasp the concept of these current events, making it comprehensible as they could be informed citizens of the United States. For instance, Mister Rogers shed light on the issue of segregation. When a horrid hate crime occurred in which black people were swimming in a hotel pool with white people and somebody poured cleaning chemicals in the water with them, Mister Rogers didn’t miss a beat as he aired an episode subsequent to that atrocious hate crime in which he washed his feet in a pool on a hot day and invited a black man to come to wash his feet with him.
Throughout “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, there is a constant emotional connection from the screen to the viewer. Each part of this movie is well planned out and executed as it truly portrayed the angelic, accepting, and rare person Mister Rogers was and his widespread love for children and the world. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is the true definition of a “feel-good” movie where Mister Rogers’ legacy is deeply inspiring and the movie sticks with you long after you watch it. This movie does include a few thematic elements such as language and hateful happenings, so this movie is geared for a bit of an older crowd, ages 12 and up. I would give “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” five out of five cardigans. This is definitely a cinematic masterpiece I recommend to watch with your neighbor.