Who was Fred Rogers
How does the man with the scratched nose get to Mr. Rogers' wall of pictures, behind one of the little doors that the TV presenter opens in his broadcasts like an Advent calendar - behind which the regular employees of his broadcast are usually found, Lady Aberlin or King Friday Thirteenth?
Fred Rogers was an institution on American television with his show "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood", from the late 1960s to 2001. A children's program, but always designed for adults, who often had much worse problems. "Won't you be my neighbor?", Fred Rogers sings at the beginning of every program, while he hangs his jacket in the closet, slips into the red jacket and ties up his blue sneakers - and tying a bow with a bow is like one from personal experience knows, not a very easy act. Fred looks inside the person in front of him, and he hopes that he has not forgotten what he experienced in his childhood.
Tom Hanks is Fred Rogers in the film "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" by Marielle Heller, who we call "The Wonderful Mr. Rogers". The film was due to hit German cinemas in spring, and is now starting on platforms such as Amazon Prime and iTunes and on DVD / Bluray. In beautiful little films, Heller told how people try to get their lives under control, through rebelliousness or a little more ruthlessly: "The Diary of a Teenager Girl", 2015, or "Can You Ever Forgive Me?", 2018 - where Melissa McCarthy exploits literary enthusiasts by forging autographs by Marlene Dietrich or Dorothy Parker.
Also rebellious is Lloyd Vogel, the real hero of "The Wonderful Mr. Rogers", played by Matthew Rhys - he will be the man with the scarred nose on the show. Lloyd works for esquire, firmly convinced of his journalistic mission - we have, he says, a seat at the very front of history! He has made a name for himself through critical, sharp-tongued articles, now he is supposed to provide a short text on Fred Rogers for a magazine about heroes, only 400 words.
A chance to change your image, says the editor. Lloyd is rather skeptical in view of the web of friendliness and warmth, of gentleness and naivety. The matter-of-factness with which Fred names him as a new friend. Fame, says Fred, be a four letter word, in America those are the words that shouldn't be used in your mouth.
The hardest thing to do is to forgive a loved one, Mr. Rogers knows
Lloyd has just become a father himself, he despises his own father because he abandoned his mother in her illness. At the sister's wedding, the father turns up again, drunk and aggressive, Chris Cooper is great in this role, he sings the evergreen "I Love You", with tender scratchiness and an aura of Ratpack: "You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off of you ... "Then father and son fight, heated and uncontrolled. When the father comes later to apologize, Lloyd leaves him standing in front of the door on the side street for two days.
To find his calm again, a state of forgiveness befitting a family man, there is only one way for Lloyd to be part of Mr. Rogers' show. That is the hardest thing, he knows, to forgive someone we love. You might see it as a feel-good, but with barbs. Mr. Rogers usually tightens one eye when he is staring at the person opposite, like an investigative Sherlock, he speaks slowly and with many pauses, lets the words circulate in silence.
No actor today can handle the trance of cinema as great as Tom Hanks. Sometimes, as in a litany, he conjures up the names of the people who are important to him at the moment. There is something shamanic about him, something magical, spooky. Sometimes he too has to let off steam, then he grips the keys of his piano with all ten fingers, the ones for the low notes, and very vigorously.
The world of Mr. Rogers is full of colored decorations and city silhouettes, a trolley curves through the paper mache streets, hand puppets philosophize in a melancholy and existentialist way. Difficult issues come up, death, divorce, war. The film is set at the end of the 90s, before the era of round-the-clock digital communication. There is a respectable detachment in the TV studio, you knock on a door and when it opens you are right in the middle of the show.
Mr. Rogers is the absolute counterpart of the shaman who determines public affairs today, the noisy Mr. Trump. Fred once asked Lloyd to observe a minute's silence in a pub to think of all those "who loved us into being". To love into life ... this is how Mr. Rogers sees it, a love that pushes, love as a productive force.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, 2019 - Director: Marielle Heller. Book: Micah Firzterman-Blue, Noah Harpster. Camera: Jody Lee Lipes. Editor: Anne McCabe. Music: Nate Helle. Starring: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Cooper, Enrico Colantoni, Maryann Plunkett, Maddie Corman. 109 minutes. More credits on imdb. On DVD at Sony and on platforms such as iTunes and Amazon Prime.
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