Everyone remembers Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood friends. He was a significant part of many people’s childhood and he taught us things that we never knew we learned from him. A passionate and caring man, Mr. Rogers spent much of his time learning and valuing the minds and development of children. Through the years, he would shape the minds and hearts of children all over and make an impact unlike any before him. In Won’t You Be My Neighbor, we get a behind the scenes look at not only the creation of the show but as well as Mr. Fred Rogers and his life, shaping his love and care for children.
Mr. Rogers was radical in many ways, and we get to see that in this film. His ideas of reaching out to children on a level that they could understand and value their opinions, emotions, and thoughts just like adults was a totally unique perspective. Despite his radical ideologies, Mr. Rogers was a unifying force on television. He could reach across race and gender, as well as touch upon topics that had never before been discussed on a children’s program such as divorce, death, and assassination. This film by Morgan Neville seeks and succeeds in capturing the memory, and all that was good about Mr. Rogers and all that he brought to the world.
This look into the creation of an icon is both heartwarming and nostalgic for many members of the audience. His presence was iconic and as an adult, having his values and opinions on the use of television explained makes viewers appreciate him even more. Despite a strong religious background as an ordained minister, Fred Rogers didn’t use his television time to preach but instead used the time to teach the principles of life such as how to treat one another, how to cope with anger, and how to deal with sadness. In this film, we get to see how these ideals and principles were pushed to the forefront of his mind and therefore the forefront of children’s television.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? manages to rekindle the love that we had for Mr. Rogers and present him in a way that is both familiar and entirely new to the audience. The behind the scenes look at Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as well as a more in-depth look into his childhood and perhaps the things that shaped his outlook on life is both captivating and inspiring. Mr. Rogers continues to capture audiences’ attention and fascination, while still reminding us of those qualities we should value in ourselves.