Chan and I were treated to a sneak peak of the new Amazon Original, An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has To Win and right away I knew this was an important film. It tells the fictional backstory of the American Girl doll named Melody.
The story centers on 10-year-old Melody played by Marsai Martin (Black-ish) growing up in Detroit in 1963, right in the middle of the civil rights movement. Through events of that time, her eyes are opened to the racial inequalities happening around her. Specifically, she’s deeply affected by the news of the real life deaths of 4 young girls in the 1963 Birmingham Church bombing. This causes her to question the Pledge of Allegiance that she says every day in school, and the country she loves.
She is bullied, singled out for the color of her skin, accused of false crimes and treated differently by the white kids at her school. Through Melody’s eyes, we see this young girl struggle with her identity, and her place in the world.
Melody goes through an emotional journey of self-discovery, courage, and renewed confidence. It may sound like heavy subject matter for kids, but in light of everything happening around us today, it certainly will spark conversation about race and human rights.
As we watched the “bullies” pick on Melody because of the color of her skin, my daughter remarked that they were “not nice” and they should “stop being mean.” This simple but true comment came out of the mouth of a three-year-old. I couldn’t have set it better myself.
One of my favorite parts of this film was the relationship between Melody and her mother Frances (Idara Victor). Her mother is so patient and loving with her. It’s a very familiar feeling watching these two interact. They clearly have a special bond. Frances also teaches Melody good reasoning skills which every parent knows is a great tool for kids to have.
The most tender moments of the film come when Melody is talking to her mom about making a difference in the world, and how she wants to protect her mom from harm. It’s a great reminder that no matter what we look like on the outside, we are still humans who love our mamas.
The music was also just perfect. It takes you back to a place and time where Motown was on the radio, the cars were big and bright, and the dresses were sweet and simple. The mood is perfectly captured by Executive Producers Common (Selma) and Alison McDonald (Roots).
Without giving too much away, I will tell you this is an important film for families to watch. It addresses the problem of racism that still exists in America in a way kids will relate to. This is a great film to watch if you’re looking to start a conversation with your kids about racial inequalities, and give them a glimpse of what African American families have been struggling with for so long in this country.
“The American Girl Melody special is an empowering and inspiring story that will quickly become a favorite for young girls, while bringing families together to help start a healthy dialogue,” said Tara Sorensen, Head of Kids Programming at Amazon Studios. “Although our special is historical, the themes presented are sadly very timely and relevant for the world in which kids today are exposed.”
Themes address in this film:
- Standing up for what’s right
An American Girl – Melody 1963: Love Has To Win will be available on Amazon Prime on October 21st.
In addition to the special debuting exclusively on Prime Video, Amazon and American Girl have collaborated to create a destination for fans of Melody’s stories to find a wide selection of American Girl Melody products.
Go to www.amazon.com/americangirl to shop for an 18-inch Melody doll, historically accurate 1960s doll outfits, a Motown-inspired recording studio that plays and records music, and more.