Goodbye Christopher Robin

Having recently watched a film at the theater, about this famous young companion to Winnie the Pooh, I was intrigued when a movie from last year, Goodbye Christopher Robin, appeared on Direct TV. Undecided about whether it was really necessary to view another movie that seemed similar to the theater version I had just seen, I tuned in for a few minutes in the middle of the story.

It was immediately obvious that this film about a boy and his imaginary friends had a very different tone. And rather than focusing on the relationship between Christopher Robin and Pooh Bear, this movie provided a peek into the complex relationship between AA Milne and his son. My intrigue shifted into curiosity. I recorded the movie and watched it a few days later.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Goodbye Christopher Robin stars Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald, and Will Tilston. This biographical drama directed by Simon Curtis carries a PG rating for a few war scenes and adult situations, and has a run time of 1 hour and 47 minutes.

Alan Alexander Milne (Domhnall), who goes by the nickname Blue, returns home from WWI suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. Crowds and loud noises set his nerves on edge and the pursuits that once interested him, such as writing plays, no longer have the same appeal.

His pretty socialite wife Daphne (Robbie) tries without success to call forth the man she knew before the war. She at last resorts to having a baby, with the hopes that a child will cheer Blue up and restore his spirits.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

After a painful labor and delivery, both parents find it difficult to connect with their infant son. Daphne vehemently hoped for a daughter. Blue is uncomfortable around children and doesn’t know how to relate to a child or play.

Their solution is to hire a nanny to care for the child and for the next eight years Christopher Robin (Tilston), called Billy Moon by his family, is cared for by Olive (Macdonald), whom he calls Nou. Daphne and Blue travel and attend gatherings. He writes a couple of plays but feels increasingly unsatisfied with being a playwright. Daphne immerses herself more and more in London society.

When Blue decides he cannot abide city life any longer, he purchases a country estate near a huge wooded acreage, and leaves the noise and bustle of London for the peace and quiet of Cotchford Farm in East Sussex. For a time the little family and Nou live together on the farm. Daphne prefers city life however and disappears for weeks at a time during visits to London.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

She brings Billy Moon gifts when she returns home…a stuffed bear, a donkey, a tiger and a tiny piglet first, and later a mother kangaroo and her joey. These plush animals become a connection to Billy’s often absent mother, and being an only child, they become his playmates.

Blue avoids his study and writing projects and spends time creating a chicken coop and finding odd jobs to do around the farm. When Nou is called away to attend to her seriously ill mother, Blue and Billy are left alone for the first time. Ill at ease at first, the father seeks to move beyond awkwardness and get to know his son.

The two finally connect over stories about Billy’s animal friends and they name each one. They decide upon Winnie the Pooh, after a real bear at the zoo, for Billy’s favorite toy. The donkey becomes Eeyore, Tigger is the tiger and the baby pig Piglet. During the weeks the two spend alone together Blue and Billy walk daily in the woods and create imaginative stories and games around the stuffed animals and pretend friends Owl and Rabbit.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Inspired by his son and the boy’s friends, Milne begins to write again…poems about Christopher Robin and Pooh Bear and later short stories. To his surprise, the adventures he pens are a huge success. However it’s not the author that everyone wants to meet, it’s the real life Christopher Robin that the world is curious about.

While his parents handle the attention well, Billy Moon resents the publicity and the intrusion into his privacy. Schoolmates tease and bully him, his life is upended and he wonders if it will ever be the same again.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

This is the kind of movie that stays with me for a while. I enjoy films based on real people and events and being a fan of the Winnie the Pooh stories, this one caught and held my interest. How sad to realize that the idyllic childhood Milne wrote about was more fiction than reality, and that he found it challenging to be a father.

However, most families are dysfunctional on some level. I could find compassion within me for the behavior of the parents. Daphne had her heart touching reasons for desiring a daughter. Milne never fully recovered from the War and while he wanted most to write a book that expounded on the horrors of war, he was remembered for slim stories about a boy and his bear.

And that boy, who so resented being made a celebrity, had to find his own way to make peace with who he was and the exploitation he felt from his father. Their lives weren’t all bad, nor were they always good. They were real though and the Milnes struggled and learned and made decisions, poor ones and better ones, that affected them for many years.

Goodbye Christopher Robin explores the darker side of a familiar story that we think we know. At its core, this is a movie about family and relationships and growing up. It’s thoughtful and insightful and tugs at the heart, all important features of an excellent film that sends the viewer to Google to search deeper.

Goodbye Christopher Robin…hello Billy Moon.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Movie Review: Christopher Robin

I had the opportunity today to see a film that has a strong appeal for children, judging by the number of small kids in the theater, and yet attracts adults as well. I love the stories of Christopher Robin and his stuffed animal friends as they have adventures in the 100 Acre Wood. Winnie the Pooh, mostly known as just Pooh, may be a bear with little brains, but he is a wise bear and a incomparable friend.

Movie Review Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin stars Ewan McGregor, Orton O’Brien, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss and the voices of Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Peter Capaldi, Nick Mohammed, Sophie Okonedo, Sara Sheen and Toby Jones. This adventure comedy, directed by Marc Forster, carries a PG rating, for action and adult themes, and has a run time of 1 hour and 44 minutes.

During the opening credits of this charming family film we see “chapters” of Christopher Robin’s life as he grows from boyhood (O’Brien) to adulthood (McGregor). His beloved friends, Pooh Bear and Tigger (both voiced by Cummings), Rabbit and Owl (voiced by Capaldi and Jones), Eyeore (voiced by Garrett), Kanga and Roo (voiced by Okonedo and Sheen) and Piglet (voiced by Mohammed), join Christopher Robin as he roams the 100 Ace Wood, exploring the terrain and his place in the world.

Movie Review Christopher Robin

As children do, Christopher Robin grows up, heading first to boarding school, then meeting his wife Evelyn (Atwell) before he serves his country during WWII. He at last returns home to his wife and young daughter Madeleine (Carmichael), a changed man. Long forgotten are his happy memories of Pooh and Piglet and the woods.

As a man with a family and responsibilities, Christopher Robin loses himself and his joy in a menial job, selling luggage to England’s wealthy travelers. His overbearing boss Giles (Gatiss) expects Christopher to sacrifice family time for the sake of the company.

Movie Review Christopher Robin

During another working weekend, in which he sends his family on holiday without him, Christopher Robin is shocked to see his old friend Pooh in London. The bear can’t find his friends, back in the woods, and he has come to ask the boy he once knew for help. Pooh is disheartened to discover little of his playful and imaginative companion in the serious and harried man. And Christopher Robin is initially more flustered than happy to see his silly old bear. Gradually though, as the two set off to find Piglet, Eeyore and the others, something stirs and awakens in Christopher Robin.

Can the man reconnect with the creative boy he once was? Is it too late to bring restoration to his family? And where are the rest of his childhood companions? Could it be that there are heffalumps in the 100 Acre Wood after all? The adventure becomes about so much more than finding his scruffy looking animals. It is a search for Christopher Robin’s heart and soul and happiness.

Movie Review Christopher Robin

This is an incredibly sweet and nostalgic film for anyone familiar with Winnie the Pooh. Using CGI for the animals, the stuffed ones and Owl and Rabbit, this movie cleverly blends the Disney animation characters with the older style illustrations from the books. During the opening and ending credits, in fact, live action sequences transform several times into the drawings by E.H. Shepherd that graced the A.A. Milne books.

All of the portrayals of Christopher Robin’s animal friends are well done, endearing and laugh worthy, however, it is Pooh Bear who takes center stage. His grumbly tummy, slightly matted fur, gentle expressions and wise Poohisms create a longing in me for such a magical and valuable friend. I have three of my childhood bears stashed away upstairs in the attic. Perhaps I should dust them off and bring them downstairs.

At the very least, I can brew a pot of tea and my bears and I can have an impromptu tea party while we watch Christopher Robin after it releases on Netflix. Silly old bears. What words of wisdom would you have for me?

Movie Review Christopher Robin

Journey 18: Sunday Expeditions

afternoon tea with Linda

Today was a collection of journeys, which is one of my favorite ways to engage a Sunday. After valuable down time this morning, I spent the afternoon with my mom and sister Linda. My sister is getting over bronchitis. Hoping a hot beverage would make her throat feel better, we decided to start our time together with tea, before working on our vision boards.

Linda has never drank hot tea before. Rather than simply offer her a cup of tea, I prepared a proper afternoon tea for the three of us. I am always thrilled to share this wonderful custom. Taking my teapot and various goodies to Mom’s, I brewed them both a pot of Scottish tea. We had chicken salad finger sandwiches, brownies, cookies and traditional shortbread cookies. Scones were the only things missing from our selection. We enjoyed sipping our hot tea and chatting. Linda included a dollop of organic honey with her tea, to sweeten it slightly and to soothe her throat. I don’t think she liked the inclusion of the honey, which seemed strongly flavored to her.

Our next journey involved working on our vision boards. I am taking my time with this activity this year, and finding that I like that. We browsed through magazines while talking about the words and pictures we were looking for. Since working on the boards last, I’ve had time to consider what other intentions, to be represented by words and symbols, are important to me. We decided that today was not about finishing the boards, so all energy could be devoted to searching and choosing what felt right to us. I realized I wanted to include the word “blog” on my board. I voiced that and asked Mom and Linda to watch for the word. Just moments later, Linda turned a page in a magazine and there it was in a headline…BLOG. I loved that. It was as if the word called to me, right before it appeared. So much of my life flows like this. These occurrences let me know I am on the right path.

Lastly, I was aware that today is Winnie the Pooh Day, celebrated because today is the birthday of creator A.A. Milne. I enjoyed reading about Milne, who was born on this date in 1882. Although he was a noted author, primarily of poems and screenplays, the stories he penned for his son, Christopher Robin Milne, made him famous. The characters were based on his son and the boy’s collection of stuffed animals. The real Christopher Robin had a teddy bear named Edward, who was renamed Winnie the Pooh after a Canadian black bear named Winnie, who was used as a military mascot in WW I and later donated to the London zoo, and Pooh after a swan.

Pooh Milne and Christopher Robin

A. A. Milne with his son Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh Bear – Howard Coster 1926

Illustrator E.H. Shepherd used his own son’s bear, Growler, as the model for Pooh. Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Tigger were all toys belonging to Christopher Robin Milne. His father created two other characters, Rabbit and Owl, from his imagination. The original toys are on display in the Stephen A. Schwartzman building, the former New York Public Library, in New York City.

I loved the stories of Winnie the Pooh, long before Disney popularized them in animation. I read the stories of the bear with “fluff in his ears” and love and wisdom in his heart to my children. The adventures of Christopher Robin and his menagerie of companions have inspired me. There is a hominess in Pooh, a combination of sage advice and imaginative musings.

What a perfect way to wind down my journeys today, reading through Winnie the Pooh quotes. I’ve shared a couple of my favorites below, with illustrations. This one is perhaps my favorite, as it reminds of the flow of life, which I so desire to immerse myself in: “Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” – A.A. Milne.  It truly is that simple…and that profound. Happy birthday A.A. Milne….and thank you.

Pooh What day is it

Pooh And adventure