Won't You Be My Neighbor?
USA, 2018, 90 min., Color, English
With his gentle voice and heartfelt words of wisdom, Fred Rogers served as a compassionate surrogate father for generations of American children who tuned in to public television. He believed in love as the essential ingredient in life and was able to assist kids through difficult situations armed merely with handmade puppets suggesting tolerance and acceptance. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Mr. Rogers made speaking directly and openly to children his life’s work, both on and off his long-running show. He was at the forefront of a movement devoted to meeting the specific needs of children and was considered a radical back then for saying, “I like you just the way you are.”
Animated sequences are peppered between archival footage of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and interviews with Fred Rogers’s family, friends, and colleagues. Examining Rogers’s legacy, Academy Award–winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) offers a deliberate and beautiful tribute to an authentic human being and provides a much-needed salve for these often-fraught times.