Friday, October 27, 2017

Goodbye Christopher Robin: Monday, October 23 2017

Goodbye Christopher Robin is a mainly accurate rendering of the true story behind the writing of Winnie-the-Pooh, the much-loved children's tales written by A.A. Milne. They were based on Christopher Robin, A.A. Milne's son, and the Alpha Farnell teddy bear he had been given for his first birthday, which he called Edward. When, at the London Zoo, he saw a female Black Bear from Canada, called Winnie, or Winnipeg, after that city, he changed the name of his bear to Winnie. This was the inspiration for the name. Included in the stories, were some of Christopher Robin's other toys.

The film is directed by Simon Curtis (57), written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce (58), the cinematography is by Ben Smithard and the music is by Carter Burwell (62). It's of a high professional standard in every aspect of production.

Domhnall Gleeson plays A.A. Milne, Margot Robbie takes the part of Milne's wife, Daphne de Selincourt, Kelly Macdonald is Christopher Robin's nanny. Alex Lawther plays the older Christopher Robin Milne. Wil Tilson as the younger Christopher Robin Milne is very cute, and adds greatly to the film. This is a well-cast ensemble, and the acting is of a high standard.

Having said all that, why did this film leave me feeling depressed? The world of Winnie the Pooh is magical, and has brought fun to so many children, but Goodbye Christopher Robin is neither of these things. It feels like a documentary, and tells the tragic story of a family adversely affected by the success of the books.

Alpha Farnell teddy bear
In the film, A.A. Milne was a miserable person, and always felt disappointed that these stories for little children were such a success, whereas his serious writings were not particularly appreciated. Particularly his Peace with Honour (1934) in which he propounds on the idea that war is so horrific that nations ought to ban war outright and insist on diplomatic resolutions of their quarrels. From this we can understand that he had no confidence on the League of Nations, perhaps justified. No doubt, the fact that no one listened to his idealistic approach to war left him further embittered.

In the film, Christopher Robin's birth takes place to Daphne Milne's screams. All my women friends questioned the scene. So much for natural childbirth; the Daphne Milne in the film is a natural drama queen! She is bitterly disappointed that the baby is a boy, as he will grow up and go off to war as did his father. The baby is handed over to his loving Scottish nanny, who brings him up in a well-planned routine. Meanwhile Daphne enjoys a lively social life in London with Alan Alexander. In the film, she seems like the classic narcissist. Both parents are totally unappealing.

A.A.Milne with Christopher Robin
When the stories around Winnie the bear become popular, Christopher Robin is lionized by an adoring media and public. Apparently, this he didn't like, and grew up blaming his parents for exploiting him. When he returns from the Second World War after having been lost, presumed dead, I couldn't have cared less.

What unattractive, negative, self-centred people! Why would anyone think an audience might be interested in such people? There is not one thing that is uplifting or motivational in this film. Anyone who has memories of pleasure reading the Christopher stories, would probably be better not to see this movie.

If you like being reminded of the horrors of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder this is the film for you. If you want to have the tired arguments against war presented yet again, you will like this film. If you don't mind seeing all the stereotypical images and characters of the early 1900s yet again, and won't find them too stale, you might even enjoy this movie. If you enjoy having your emotions manipulated, your in luck.

From what I gather, it isn't doing too well at the box office.

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