The Children Must Learn (film #313 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This 40s film presents the educational problems of the children of the Appalachian mountain people, and advocates for these children being taught better farming methods within a curriculum that is more relevant to their world than the standard one. The film contains realistic scenes of children at home in their mountain cabins waking up, getting dressed for school, eating a breakfast of cornpone, sausage, and greasy gravy, and walking long distances to a one-room schoolhouse that looks like an artifact of the 19th century. The soundtrack music consists of authentic mountain people folksongs. The film ends up unresolved, as we don’t find out if the new educational program was very helpful or effective. But the film does give us a fascinating snapshot of rural Appalachian life as it was lived in the 40s, as well as projecting a stark, strange mood.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

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