Wednesday, February 01, 2023

The Three Children: An extraordinary 1946 public information film

This is an extraordinary public information film from 1946. It's clear the children are in danger, but it's not clear what danger until the end of the piece.

The blurb on YouTube puts it well: 

An air of brooding malevolence hangs over this 1940s road safety film from the opening shot. An elevated view of a crossroads on Woodford High Road is paired with noirish soundtrack already in crescendo. The three young children of the title are introduced, and as they come together unobserved they meet a mysterious, dark stranger in the bushes and walk off with him hand in hand.

It is a sign of modern times that you are perhaps more concerned about the stranger than the traffic, but his presence is a symbolic one – he represents Death itself, guiding the children towards the light. The three children embody the number killed on the roads each day. The filmmakers of the Wanstead & Woodford Road Safety Committee bring a remarkable other-worldly tension to the piece that certainly scares the life out of parents.

Those parents seem unbelievably negligent to us today, but then the past is a foreign country. And in the US at least, there are now worries that parenting is too policed.

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