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THE NEIGHBORHOOD ARCHIVE - All Things Mister Rogers

Lessons From Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (Review)

Back in October of 2013, we had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Judith Rubin who played the part of the "art lady" on early episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Since her days on the Neighborhood, Dr. Rubin has gone on to become a well-renowned art therapist and film maker and recently released a new film to the general public -- Lessons From Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

 

A few weeks ago, I acquired a DVD copy of Lessons and in the time since have watched it twice through. Both times I was struck by a quote from Fred Rogers heard early in the film:

"Let's find out what makes children healthy and do all we can to give that to them."

This is the crux of this one-hour documentary which was named Best Documentary at the 2015 Harrisburg-Hershey Film Festival. Through interview footage and clips from various eras of the Neighborhood program, Dr. Rubin effectively presents viewers with evidence that the Neighborhood was far more than a simple children's television program. There are no special graphics used in the film -- in fact, at times the overlay text and transitions seem simple enough that the film almost seems dated. Still, the message is clear as Dr. Rubin covers topics ranging from separation to permissible regression to developing impulse control. While these topics are much deeper than what an average viewer might expect to find on a children's program, Lessons is a clear reminder that every second of every Neighborhood program was planned with the most precise calculation and purpose.

Although somewhat biographical in nature and including clips found in other films such as America's Favorite Neighbor, Lessons From Mister Rogers' Neighborhood has less of a focus on Fred Rogers the television personality and more on Fred Rogers the child psychologist. A clip of Dr. Margaret McFarland emphasizes the purpose of the film and the Neighborhood program:

"It is less a show for children and more real communication with them."

Dr. Rubin and the fine folks at Expressive Media have offered a special price on this film to readers of the Neighborhood Archive. Normally priced at $49.00 for individual purchase, readers can contact Expressive Media directly at info@expressivemedia.org for a special Neighborhood Archive discounted price of $39 ($29 if you purchase three or more copies). While this price may seem steep for an average DVD, keep in mind that this film has been produced on a small market, comes from someone directly involved with the formative years of the Neighborhood, and is an important reminder of Fred Rogers' deepest messages.

Worth every penny.

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