Watching The Graduate (dir. Mike Nichols, 1967) with some of my students recently, I had a thought about the film's opening credits, which play as Benjamin Braddock stands on an automated walkway at LAX, moving without moving. A simple choice: should Ben be facing right, or left?
Yes, left. Forward movement typically goes from left to right, as when reading text in English. Ben's going backward, going home.
Between watching The Graduate and writing this post, I happened to read Bill Madison's recent interview with Betty Aberlin of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Talking about Fred Rogers' care with every detail of production, Lady Aberlin notes that
Things happened left to right on the screen, because a child learns to read with his eyes being trained left to right.This post has moved from right to left, from a movie about a college graduate to a television show for pre-schoolers. Now it's time for my snack.