Monday, July 6, 2009

children watching...

"Children watching cartoons in a movie theater,"San Carlos, CA, June 1946 by Charles E. Steinheimer via LIFE

Okay, this post title sounds a little ominous, but this it's not a children-of-the-corn type of post. It's just the opposite. I came across the above picture and it reminded me of when I went with my nephew to see the musical production of "The Grinch" this past Christmas. He was, at the time, just new to 3 years old and he had never seen live theatre before. We were worried he'd be restless or bored or would pull something that 3 year old boys are experts at pulling, but he was not only a gem the whole time - he was also mesmerized. He stood the entire time and, like the little boy in this picture, held the seat in front of him as if he had to anchor himself to some place (sitting in his seat was not going to do it). The musical was, well..., what you'd expect, but his face and the way he was utterly swept up in the experience was wonderful to watch.

So here are some more images of children as audience members fully caught up in what they are watching. What's interesting is that most of these are of puppet shows or plays or parades. The only one of kids watching movies is the one above and that picture was taken in 1946. It's strange that, for the most part, pictures that I came across of groups of kids watching movies or tv were so different from these - there wasn't the same array of expressions and reactions. And the pictures of audiences in 3D glasses? Really kind of strange how uniform in expression they are (creepy even, if you ask me). Anyway, these old black and whites seem reason enough to go see more live stuff with my nephew or any of my friends' children - I cannot get enough of these expressive little faces.

"WPA Federal Theater Project in New York: children watching Marionette Unit," 1935 via wikipedia

"A group of children watching the Punch and Judy puppet show," UK, 1946 via LIFE

"Children at a Puppet Theater, Paris," 1963 by Alfred Eisenstaedt via girlfriday

"Children at a Puppet Theater, Paris," 1963 (version II) by Alfred Eisenstaedt via girlfriday

"Kids watching the Christmas Parade, Raleigh, NC" (no date) via The North Carolina State Archives

still from Francois Truffaut's "Les quatre cents coups" ("The 400 Blows"), 1959

And you have to watch this clip from "Les quatre cents coups" ("The 400 Blows"). You don't have to know anything about the movie other than these 2 older boys are sitting in on a puppet show of "Little Red Riding Hood" (a perfect story to trigger many different reactions from its audience). Also, these little kids, in case you can't tell, are not acting - these are their honest reactions to what they are watching. And wait until the end of the clip to catch my favorite part: one boy resting his head on another boy's shoulder. Neither boy flinches, neither boy moves. It is completely natural and innocent. And it kills me every time.


  1. love this post. what a wonderful study of children and their imaginations!! thanks for the tour of their joy!

  2. I have a large extended family and am always around children. That clip beautifully captures the awe that children have that I feel we adults begin to lose. Their expressions are full and honest without any restraint. I love it.

  3. i love this! thanks so much for posting!

  4. Great collection of pics. Children are so expressive, so spontaneous with their emotions...



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