My taste in movies tends to run to the fluffy.

My parents used to load us all in the old woody station wagon and take us out to the drive-in. Often as not the movie was a musical, and I still love the old MGM song and dance films.

Drive-ins have never been practical in Alaska. If it’s dark enough to see the screen, it’s too cold to sit in a parked car, and most of my movie watching nowadays is DVDs while pedaling away on my stationary bicycle. I still love the MGM musicals, though, from The Wizard of Oz on. Especially Gene Kelley.

I watched Brigadoon the other night, and marveled again at the musical numbers with Gene Kelley and Cyd Charisse. Oh, the sets are rather obviously painted, and the plot is pretty weak, but the dancing is wonderful. Still, I found myself wondering about a few things.

Not the willing suspension of disbelief that always is necessary to enjoy a fantasy. I’m a science fiction author, and that comes naturally. This was more the world building. Where were the children? Brigadoon was supposed to date to a time before the Revolutionary War. At that time, the death rate, especially among children, was high. One result was large families – more than two children per family, because some would not survive to have children of their own. As a result the age distribution should have been skewed toward the young, as it is today in developing countries — lots of children, numerous adolescents, a moderate number of adults, and a very few old people.

Oh, there were a handful of children shown. But for the village to survive, there should have been at least three children – probably more – for each adult woman.

That’s not true today. Most children born today survive to have children of their own – we consider it a real tragedy when they do not. But that wasn’t true in pre-Revolutionary times.

I’ve done a certain amount of genealogy on my own background, and I have ancestors who gave three children the same name, because the first two died. And women died in childbirth all too often – again hinted at by the fact that many of my male ancestors were widowed when the wife died in childbirth, and then remarried.

No, the society shown in Brigadoon is unlikely, to say the least. But that doesn’t make the singing and dancing any less enjoyable.