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A Story of Children and Film is the world's first movie about kids in global cinema. It's passionate, poetic, portrait of the adventure of childhood: its surrealism, loneliness, fun, destructiveness and stroppiness: as seen through 53 great films from 25 countries. A story of children and film is an eye opener, a landmark film and a celebration of both childhood and the movies.Written by
An overabundance of style and symbolism over substance
Mark Cousins was the force behind a series of documentaries that were recently aired on TCM, The Story of Film an Odyssey, something on the order of 15 hours that looks through film as a worldwide journey. There was something with that that could at times bother me, but it still could also be fairly interesting even if it had its lulls.
However, in this, I feel more like Cousins is somewhere between laziness and simply inelegant. The framework he uses to set this exploration is, in my view, tenuous at best as he starts off with filming his niece and nephew, then attempts to use this video to highlight all the aspects that film depicts of children. The concept may sound quite original, but the way he pulls things out of that initial video is forced, at best, and while it's an attempt to create an overarching theme, it just doesn't hold up. The way he ties film into this initial video also seems to use the most tenuous of threads, including very forced links and strong attempts to create parallel situations that often are not present. While some of this is the same style that I saw in The Story of Film, it seems to really go to new heights here, milking such things as movies with balloons in them.
The point where it seems to really go beyond any reasonable credulity is when he begins using footage he had of a dog to remind him of the things about childhood that WEREN'T in the video of his niece and nephew, and when ha manages to use their grandmother stepping in shot but with her head above the frame as some way to create a series of links starting with Tom and Jerry, notable for its distinct lack of any kids in it. It also violated his initial statement that he was only going to focus on live-action.
What I've seen of him in the past was far exceeded here in terms of attempts to force symbolism and connections in increasingly convoluted ways. Additionally, without the historical element to provide a common theme, the film really gets lost in itself at points, and it spends far more time trying to be profound that in does really discussing those themes in a more substantive and cohesive way.
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