Won’t You Be My Neighbor?The new documentary film about Fred Rogers, the mild mannered host of his own children’s show, is a wonderful portrait of a man whose mission to send a singular message of love and acceptance to every child reverberated for many generations who grew up knowing him through their televisions.
Using show footage, animation and interviews with colleagues and friends, the story of his life and work are revealed and explored.
Fred Rogers was ahead of his time as writer, producer and host of his own show, placing current issues into plotlines and dealing directly with children’s perspectives and feelings about the world they were growing up in. He felt it imperative to honor the myriad aspects of a child’s psyche, whether depression, insecurity, anger, fear, sadness, imagination and, of course, happiness. He also illuminated current events, including the Vietnam War, political assassinations and race relations in America.
In 1969, with the government on the verge of cutting funding for the arts, Mr. Rogers made a heartfelt and genuine plea to congress, simply and singlehandedly restoring $20 million of cut funding back to the fledgling public broadcasting service.
It was this belief in the value of children that drove Fred’s work and life. Giving them a solid foundation of love and respect were his primary goals.
The film is a loving tribute to a true gentleman and scholar, a beloved figure in the American landscape who had no equal and never stopped believing in the power of love and grace in every child’s life.
Fred Rogers made a tremendous cultural contribution during his life and his legacy continues to inspire and provide a blueprint for future generations.