A Story of Children and Film is a documentary film by Director Mark Cousins.
When Mark filmed his nephew and niece at play, it reminded him about the similarities between kids and films from around the since the art form began twelve decades ago.
This film is a personal documentary style film about how Director Mark Cousins has seen films influenced by kids and vice versa. He shows us that many films show similar traits such as the wary or shy look on a child. A great example is shown in ‘E.T.’ the first time Elliott and E.T. meet their facial expressions are wary, they are two creatures who are relatively new to the world. The reserve angle editing emphasises their stares. It perfectly portrays the playful and inquisitive nature of a child.
He also touches on the subject of social class, something that isn’t often mentioned in films about kids. One classic film however that does reflect on social class is in the film ‘Great Expectations’ (1946). In the film a boy called Pip is made to feel awkward, shy and indifferent when Estella calls him ‘a common labouring boy’ and ‘stupid clumsy labouring boy. In those types of social situations, such cutting class comments hit home to the child about how cruel the world really is. It makes them think about how social class has ruined their lives. But then again how much do kids even know about social class? Kids will see something they want in a shop and demand that their parents buy it for them. They are too young to know that money is earned through hard work and so when a child is told ‘No’, they cannot contemplate why they were denied the toy or whatever object they desired.
Another aspect Mark mentioned is how open kids are to the camera once they overcome their shyness. They are perfectly happy to perform in front of an audience; they can sing out of tune and make mistakes because they just don’t care. The kids become engrossed in their own performing world. They understand that when the camera pans then their stage is moving and so they move with it. It’s like a form of childlike wonder of discovery and yearning to be paid attention to. Kids have endless imagination and can turn the subjects in front of a camera into their own Fairy-tale.
One of the most thought provoking issues mentioned in the film is the ‘child parent,’ a situation where the child’s role is reversed and they became the adult in the relationship. Director Steven Spielberg often touches on this issue with the absentee father in the majority of his films including ‘E.T.’
The documentary film shows how fast children grow up and that the medium of film perfectly captures those moments.