A Story Of Children And Film


Reviewed by: Robert Munro

"We're transported into a world of cinema; some of it is known, much of it unknown, which surely fires the imagination of any viewing cinephile."

Mark Cousins' latest documentary offering, The Story Of Children And Film, combines aspects of two previous projects, The First Movie and The Story Of Film, to bring us a poetic and inspiring look at the varied cinematic representations of childhood.

Cousins makes use of his niece Lauren and nephew Ben, who spend a playful morning in his home, filmed by his camera. At first they're understandably wary. Their uncle and his camera have their eyes on them, and shyness proliferates. Cousins has seen that wary look before, and we are soon transported into the world of cinema, beginning with E.T. and Elliott's cautious interaction with the alien.

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From one wary child to another, Cousins languidly strolls through a truly international history of the cinema and its child protagonists. Ben and Laura move from weariness to stroppiness, and we're in Iran with young Razieh who is, lower lip firmly protruding, demanding a new goldfish from her unrelenting mother.

Cousins' central conceit is quite brilliant. The smallest of gestures or looks from Ben or Laura sparks another chapter in our odyssey, and we're transported into a world of cinema; some of it is known, much of it unknown, which surely fires the imagination of any viewing cinephile.

All our old favourites are there, from the aforementioned E.T. to the inimitable The Night Of The Hunter and perhaps the greatest childhood film of all time, Les Quatre Cent Coups. But added to this are lesser known gems sprung from most corners of the globe.

The narrative of the documentary, its weaving in and out of a host of films, ensures that the attention of the audience is rapt. We want to return to Razieh and her white balloon; we long to see more from the little girl in Shinji Somai's Moving; we can't wait for the reappearance of the little boy with the pane of glass in Willow And Wind.

While occasionally the film may lose a certain coherency - the bookending of the film with thoughts on Van Gogh feels a little irrelevant and indulgent - it is a small price to pay for the rambling, poetic avenues that we're taken down, which more often than not turn up gold.

Reviewed on: 21 Jun 2013
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A look at the way children have been represented in film from around the world.
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Director: Mark Cousins

Writer: Mark Cousins

Year: 2012

Runtime: 104 minutes

Country: UK

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