Tuesday, 21 August 2018

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem.”

I've always been a huge, huge fan of Disney, but I haven't always been a fan of their treatment of Winnie The Pooh over the years. I've held Winnie the Pooh very close to my heart my entire life - I had a specially bound collection of A.A. Milne's complete works as a child that would be read to me before bed, before I learnt how to read it for myself every night. We lived not too far from Ashdown Forest, which is the real location of Hundred Acre Wood. Being able to tangle my childhood memories of jumping in the real Roo's Sandy Pit, playing Poohsticks with my mum on the footbridge, and visiting the tree that inspired Winnie The Pooh's home with the novels resulted in these stories meaning the absolute world to me because they were real. Growing up and re-reading A.A. Milne's words only reinforced their meaning as I realised how full of wit and wisdom they are.

I've always felt disappointed in how Disney have handled the characters. Up until very recently they've been treated as the exclusive domain of babies and toddlers with equally dumbed down films. I've always liked the earlier animations from the 60s and 70s, but they've really lost their way with the characters. However I've been pleasantly surprised to see them recently release some merchandise of Pooh aimed at adults in Clinton's and Primark, and have been counting down the days since I saw the trailer for their newest film Christopher Robin, which I finally saw today.


“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.” - Winnie The Pooh (A.A. Milne)
This is far more of a film aimed at adults than it is children, which unfortunately seemed to confuse the audience of very young kids who were expecting the usual Disney Winnie The Pooh fluff. It focuses on the story of Christopher Robin, but more so the character than A.A. Milne's real son as it deviates away from his biography pretty early on with his father dying while he's at boarding school (the real Christopher Robin was an adult when his father died, and they didn't have the best relationship. Christopher Robin was also a bookseller in Devon, not a luggage salesman in London, and his daughter had cerebral palsy which also isn't in the film.) The film never states that it's based on truth though, and I loved the fiction they created based on the character. To see Christopher Robin become weary from boarding school, losing his father, serving in the war and seeing his daughter grow up without him felt only too realistic, and made him being reunited with Pooh even more emotional. I'm not keen on films that force emotion out of the viewer, but I never felt manipulated into feeling sad as despite the fantastical element of the characters the rest of the film was incredibly realistic and relatable. And I loved the overarching message of holding onto the magic no matter how old you grow. Being a fan of Disney I've often been told by complete strangers to "grow up" as if liking things is somehow immature which I've always found a bit tragic. Just because you reach a certain age doesn't mean you have to abandon creativity and wonder and live a grey, boring life filled with work and drudgery. You can have fun and responsibilities at the same time.

I really can't put into words just how much I loved this film, every single aspect of it was perfect and I loved how it included so many quotes from the original books. The only niggle I have is some of the voices, but that's just personal preference and me being used to the old animations. Jim Cummings has always done an amazing job as Sterling Holloway's replacement for Pooh Bear, and Tigger and Eeyore were spot on too. But the re-imagined voices for Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, and Owl just left me a bit cold. There was nothing wrong with them per se, they just didn't sound like themselves which does feel like an important distinction with such beloved well known characters. I loved their re-design so much though, and how they look just like old toys of the time period. I might even have to get a Pooh Bear of my own!

5 comments:

  1. How amazing that you got to visit the real location, Sydney! What a shame that some people have told you to 'grow up'. It's a harmless interest and there's really no need to be judgemental. Like whatever you like, I say. If it brings back happy childhood memories, what more can you ask for? 😊

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    1. Don't worry, I've never paid such ignorance any mind! And that's all it is with judgemental types :)

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  2. This is such a lovely review, I love reading ones where someone has utterly loved the film they're talking about! And yes, these characters are so surprisingly wise!

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    1. Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it!

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  3. I'm glad to hear they did a wonderful job on this film. It looks quite magical and I hope I get to see it soon! I enjoyed reading your review!

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