And the Children Shall Lead

  • Review Date: April 12, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 58 minutes

Common Sense Media says

A sensitive, powerful drama on race issues.
  • Review Date: April 12, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 58 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The "n-word" is used once, though the movie does not advocate its use. A number of scenes depict discrimination and oppression, the film's main themes. Depicting small-town race relations in 1964 Mississippi, this film effectively captures both the established bonds and barriers between blacks and whites of all ages.

Violence

Offscreen, a father gives his daughters a switching with a willow branch. Two white twins beat up a black boy their own age.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie provides a great way to open discussion with children about racial issues, even children as young as 5. This film is both ideal for older kids and direct enough to hold teens' attention and important enough to be good family viewing.

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What's the story?

It's 1964 in sleepy Catesville, Miss. Jenny, the daughter of the white sheriff, is good friends with Rachel, granddaughter of Miss Annie, the sheriff's black housekeeper. As a house painter, Rachel's father, William (Danny Glover), buys his supplies from the father of white twins Floyd and Lloyd, the constant companions of Jenny, Rachel, and Rachel's cousin and sister. Despite these close ties, all of them, like the people around them, routinely observe the longstanding rules of racial segregation -- until the civil rights movement of the mid-60s begins to touch them. When a busload of civil rights workers, led by Glenn (LeVar Burton), comes to town to register voters, everyone -- including the children -- has to decide where they stand on the pressing issue of civil rights.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

What makes AND THE CHILDREN SHALL LEAD so special is its careful selection of day-to-day incidents in the lives of a handful of Southerners, both black and white. Combine that with a convincing script, unaffected child actors, and a supporting ensemble of skilled stars, and the result is an excellent film. The shocking era of "Whites Only" restrooms and drinking fountains becomes immediate as characters face real dilemmas. Rachel and her sister Paulette, in pressing need, find an "Out of Order" sign blocking their use of a "Colored" restroom. This simple scene may rattle youngsters today, but will register sharply with their sense of justice. The effect multiplies when the twins Lloyd and Floyd turn on their black friend.

Direct and sensitive, The Children lets us know the people of Catesville and helps us understand what each feels as the stable structure of their world, however inequitable, begins to change. If the mild ending is a bit of a letdown, it nevertheless rings true, as does so much of this picture, by personalizing a portrait of America's arduous struggles to break free of racism.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what they do if faced with the same situation confronted by the kids in the movie. How is their school and are their friendships different today than they were in the 1960s? How arethings still unfair? What examples can you think of that you see today that show race still affects how people are treated?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 11, 1988
DVD release date:January 27, 1998
Cast:Danny Glover, Denise Nicholas, LeVar Burton
Director:Michael Pressman
Studio:HBO
Genre:Drama
Run time:58 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of And the Children Shall Lead was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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