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Trailer for Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Explores What Made Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood So Magical

By most logic, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood shouldn’t have been a successful show. As one director put it (as recounted in the video above), “If you take all of the elements that make good television and do the exact opposite, you have Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Low production values, simple set, an unlikely star. Yet, it worked. Because he was saying something really important.”

For so many of us, that show shaped us. It spoke to us and resonated on a level deeper than is maybe reasonable for a piece of entertainment. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this television show made us–many of us–feel seen and safe and genuinely loved. The show and the man behind it were magic.

Morgan Neville’s documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is premiering at Sundance this month, and promises to take “an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers.” Often these behind-the-scenes, “real story” documentaries are designed to show the secrets and darkness happening offscreen. But this “portrait of a man whom we all think we know” doesn’t look to have that as its aim. How can it, when by every account I’ve ever read, the man in question here was pure love?

In the clip above, and hopefully the entire film, that love is the main subject. As Rogers says, “Love is at the root of everything. All learning, all parenting, all relationships–love or the lack of it. And what we see and hear on the screen is part of who we become.” Fred Rogers was dedicated to making sure children felt his love through their TV screens.

This feels like the exact movie we need right now. For those of us not attending Sundance, we’ll have to wait until June 8th.

(images: Focus Features)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.

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