Goodbye Christopher Robin: A Peek Into the Creation of Pooh

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I went to see Goodbye Christopher Robin at our local theatre, the Camelot, which plays first-run, independent and foreign films. I’m so thankful to have a theater like this close-by when there seems to be an endless dirge of flops released these days.

Watching Goodbye Christopher Robin was like getting a sneak peek behind the scenes of author A.A. Milne and how he created some of the best-loved characters today. Growing up, Piglet was my favorite and my mom liked Eeyore. My mom read “The House at Pooh Corner” to me from her childhood book, before I could read myself. Goodbye Christopher Robin is a newly released British film and although reviews are mixed, I highly recommend it.images-1

The movie was very moving and I’ll warn you to bring tissue. My husband wasn’t thrilled and said that he liked to be entertained and doesn’t like all his emotions being excavated and stirred up. In my opinion, that’s what makes this movie great. You live through the horrors of post World War I England and see Milne suffer from PTSD, which I imagine wasn’t diagnosed and treated as it is today. He bought a house in the country and moved his wife and young son Christopher Robin to the peaceful countryside so he could deal with his PTSD. It was in their 100-acre wood that he and his son forged a relationship and Pooh was born. The heartache Christopher Robin faces throughout his childhood truly wants me to give this child a hug.

Here are snippets of reviews of the movie starring Domhnall Gleeson as A.A. Milne, his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie), nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald) Young Christopher Robin (Will Tilston) and Young Adult (Alex Lawther):

Movies you should know about: ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ By Patrick Cooley, cleveland.com

“Goodbye Christopher Robin” tells a compelling story that you probably didn’t realize you wanted to know, the creation of beloved children’s character Winnie the Pooh and its impact on those who inspired it.

“It’s a little uneven, as it undergoes a wild shift in tone roughly halfway through, but it’s a well-acted and well-written story about fame and family that I hope won’t get lost in the hype of all the major movies hitting theaters in the fall and winter.”

Jane Horwitz from The Washington Post wrote a not so glowing review in ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ review: Origin story of Pooh beset by script heffalumps and casting woozles:

“In the 1920s, A.A. Milne gave a world reeling from World War I gentle books inspired by his only child and the boy’s stuffed-animal friends. The British author rendered them in verse and prose, brimming with humor and nestled among perfect illustrations by E.H. Shepard.

“Such books as ‘When We Were Very Young’ and ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ were great gifts, but their success took a toll, as the well-intentioned, but flawed film ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ aims to show. Christopher Robin Milne — called by his nickname, “Moon,” in the film — had a painful public childhood. His father felt guilt about that, and he saw his literary ambitions limited by ‘Pooh.’ ”

“Inspired by Ann Thwaite’s 1990 biography of the author and the memoirs of Christopher Milne, the script, while well researched, is stuffed with more shifts in time and tone than it can gracefully handle. Though ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ has moments of delight and even profundity, and looks-PBS pretty, too often it stumbles”

A third review called “Goodbye Christopher Robin Is All About The Pain Of Growing Up” was written by Kyle Anderson:

So often in biopics, especially those about creators of beloved works, it’s easy to melodramatize events rather than play them more seriously. I certainly knew very little about Milne apart from his creation of Winnie the Pooh, and the movie didn’t give me any kind of rosy picture of him. In fact, though director Simon Curtis’ Goodbye Christopher Robin sets out to recall the innocence of a child creating stories about his toys with his father, it doesn’t shy away from the reality that his parents may have been cold and unfeeling people.

Domhnall Gleeson does a masterful job as A.A. Milne, a comedy playwright and author who returns home from World War I with heavy bouts of PTSD and a refusal to return back to “normal life.” This point of view is at odds with that of his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie), a high-society figure who thinks her husband (whom she and most people call Blue) is just being difficult.

The pair move to the country with their son Christopher Robin, though whom they exclusively call Billy Moon, and his beloved nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald) so that Milne can set to work on the anti-war novel he thinks he’s duty-bound to write. While Milne is engrossed in his book—and perhaps due to the custom of the 1920s, I suppose—the parenting of Christopher Robin, a major theme of the film, falls almost entirely on Olive. As such, Milne comes across as aloof for a good portion of the film, and Daphne seems to have no time for any of it, going back to London for long stretches until her husband writes something they can sell.

The movie captures the magic of Christopher Robin and Pooh and for those moments, I truly suggest you go see this movie. You can watch a trailer here.

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What movies have you liked and can you recommend?

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