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A Story Of Children And Film, film review: Playful, profound essay on children and cinema

(PG) Mark Cousins, 106 mins

Mark Cousins' essay on children and cinema is playful and profound. His frame of reference is vast, stretching from Tom and Jerry to Meet Me in St Louis, from British films such as Kes to Idrissa Ouedraogo's Yaaba, Luis Buñuel's Los Olvidados, Andrei Tarkovsky's Mirror, Spielberg's ET and the recent Dutch classic Kauwboy.

Cousins organises his clips thematically, exploring subjects such as "wariness," "destructiveness" and "class," and always looking for parallels between different cultures and periods. He also makes highly inventive use of one of his own home movies, which features his nephew and niece playing marbles and acting up for the camera.

Just occasionally, there is a hint of narcissism (early on, Cousins seems to compare himself to Van Gogh) and one or two of his readings of films are reductive. (It seems perverse to see the relationship between Pip and Estella in David Lean's Great Expectations purely in terms of class.) This, though, is a very engaging and original survey of a subject that film historians and documentarians have largely ignored.