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Goodbye Christopher Robin- a movie review

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Domhnall Gleeson as in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by David Appleby. © 2017 Fox Searchlight Pictures

If you read the Winnie the Pooh stories as a child, or read them to your own children, then you are like millions around the world for generations. Winnie the Pooh is considered the world’s most beloved children’s story. And it’s no wonder since it’s precious and delightful. But it also has a sad and bittersweet origin.

Domhnall Gleeson and Will Tilston in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by David Appleby. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

A.A. Milne the author and creator of the beloved bear, was a father of an actual boy named Christopher Robin. Something that I didn’t know until now!

The movie, Goodbye Christopher Robin, by Fox Searchlight Pictures, is the story of Milne and how the Winnie The Pooh books came to be. But it’s also a story on fatherhood, relationships, growing up, and the destruction of war on its survivors.

GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, Twentieth Century Fox 2017

A couple of things to mention; this picture is not really for children. Honestly, it’s a little bit dark and sad. Plus it might be embarrassing to have your children watch you bawling your eyes out when it pulls on your heart strings. Something that might have happened to me, maybe.

I’m a sucker for a British period film. I can name all the Merchant Ivory movies of the 80s and 90s and I will forever love any story set in an English countryside. It could be the British girl in me from my dad’s side. He grew up in the English countryside during World War 2, so I feel the pull of my Anglo roots with these stories.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is set after World War 1. Milne a playwright but sent to war to fight for England, comes home from battle with emotional scars and anguish. Shell shock, or PTSD as we know it now, was definitely misunderstood in those days. He and his wife Daphne live in London. His emotional trauma from the horrors of war and being at the front cripple his writing abilities. He wants to write, but can’t figure out how to share words that are useful and important. He decides a break from the loud clamor of the city would be good for his mental and emotional health and moves them and their son Christopher, and nanny Olive, to the countryside of Sussex.

Will Tilston, Margot Robbie and Kelly Macdonald in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by David Appleby. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

It’s clear that the ‘English stiff upper lip’ syndrome is apparent in this family. It’s that kind of dynamic where the nanny does more the job of raising the youngster and the parents barely utter an I Love You or give a hug. Something those British are famous for. As Americans we’ve heard of this type of behavior from the Royal Family. But honestly, it’s something my father can tell you about firsthand. There was no nanny for him, but also no hugs. Sad, I know.

While Alan spends time with his son, he partners with his war buddy and fellow illustrator (E.H. Shepard) to watch his son play with his stuffed bear. We see the pages of his books brought to life in the images of little Christopher and his play time. It’s charming and delightful to see the origins of Piglet and Eeyore. But soon we see that the role of Christopher Robin the boy, is overshadowed by Christopher Robin the character in the books. As the stories become a success, he’s paraded around to tea parties, dignitaries and ceremonies. The British people of the 1920s adored not only the stories, but were fascinated with little Christopher. He was by far a celebrity of Kardashian standards, and clearly uncomfortable with the fame that went with it.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Will Tilston in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by Ben Smithard. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

While the people of post war-torn England and Europe embraced the adventures of the Hundred Acre Wood, the Milne family seemed to lose their compass of how to separate celebrity and family life.

As Christopher becomes disenchanted with their lifestyle, and eventually must grow up like boys his age of that time, in a boarding school, we see the effects of what stardom can do to a young person. Mostly how he just yearns for his parents, especially his father’s attention.

Domhnall Gleeson, Will Tilston and Margot Robbie in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by David Appleby. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

The movie is gorgeous, thought provoking and surprises you with a punch in the gut and then pulls your heart to the brim of happiness. Tears flowed, both happy and sad while I watched. It was an unexpected experience I will admit. What resonates so deeply is that while Milne was suffering mentally and emotionally, he was giving the world this salve of comfort through his stories about a little boy and his bear.

Goodbye Christopher Robin,Twentieth Century Fox 2017

If you’ve quoted Winnie the Pooh, then you know his philosophy is very astute for just a stuffed bear. I encourage you to check out Goodbye Christopher Robin so you can feel for yourself the heart and mind of what those stories are made of.

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Looking forward to seeing this, Embedded deep in my heart here!