Originally published Thursday, 12 October 2017.
Like thousands of other children, I grew up within the wonder and awe of the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. From books to VHS tapes of the classic movies and cartoons to stuffed animals and t-shirts, Winnie the Pooh was just a staple in my childhood, just like it was for my mom when she was a little girl. So when I found I was pregnant several years ago, Winnie the Pooh was an obvious choice for the nursery theme.
And just like that, when my son was born, he was quickly introduced to “Pooh bear” and all of his friends in the 100 Acre Wood.
My little boy joined those thousands of other children who have been captivated by the classic stories of the adventures of Winnie the Pooh for nearly 90 years.
HOW CAN A CHILDREN’S FICTIONAL CHARACTER BECOME SO IMPACTFUL AND ICONIC FOR (LITERALLY) GENERATIONS?
I think that question can be better answered by understanding how the stories of Winnie the Pooh came to be, and Fox Searchlight Pictures’ film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN does just that by giving the viewer a glimpse into the life of the author of the Winnie the Pooh books, A.A. Milne, and the rest of his family, including his son, the real Christopher Robin.
I was selected to view a special online screening of the film recently and I can say that its presentation of the this true story moved me so deeply that it brought tears to my eyes.
As a writer and creative person myself, I understand that a piece of who you are is put into your masterpiece. A.A. Milne (played by Domhnall Gleeson in the film) not only put his heart and soul into his work as an author, but put his very own son’s life within the pages of the books of the adventures of Winnie the Pooh, as he observed Christopher Robin aka “Billy Moon” (played by the adorably, dimpled Will Tilston in the film) interact and play with his stuffed animals- creating his very own fantasy world with Winnie, Tigger, Kanga and Roo, Owl, Eeyore, and Piglet too.
Because A.A. Milne was already a successful London playwright, before writing the classic children’s tales and after he returned home from WWI, he was very well-off financially and was also married to an often spoiled and selfish woman (played by Margot Robbie) whose family seems to have also been very wealthy.
Domhnall Gleeson as in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by David Appleby. © 2017 Fox Searchlight Pictures
Talent and riches come with a price, and we see as the movie unfolds, that it had a devastating impact on poor little Billy Moon who was raised by a (precious and loving) nanny from birth into the early years of his life. With the instant fame of the Winnie the Pooh books, one would think Billy Moon would have everything a child could ever want, but as we see the demands of promoting the books and the further neglect from his parents, this little boy who thousands of children admired and adored, often felt utterly alone and just wanted to be shown genuine love from his parents. This longing for acceptance seems to follow Billy into his late teens and early 20s.
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
Like I said before, this film moved me to tears because there was such pain within the Milne family, such a juxtaposition to the sweet and happy stories of Winnie the Pooh. A man who brought such happiness during a time where nations were torn because of war and financial crisis, wrestled with his imperfections as a husband and father and was utterly haunted by his experiences in the war, causing a lot of mental anguish and delusion.
If you can endure the heaviness and disappointments (that seem to never let up) to the end, you will eventually find hope and a message that restoration and reconciliation are possible, even in the most seemingly impossible of circumstances. I like to hang onto that message of the movie because it reminds me of the goodness of God within our messy lives. He can take our ashes and make something beautiful out of it.
And in the case of Mr. A.A. Milne, decades later, we have the beauty of Winnie the Pooh, which is considered the most beloved children’s book of all time, that came from the ashes of his life at home that have brought joy to so many.
GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN opens in select theaters, tomorrow, October 13th.
Here is a beautiful clip from the film of the brief moments of A.A. Milne spending quality time with his son, Christopher Robin, as we see the beginnings of Winnie the Pooh coming to life:
CLICK LINK TO VIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=akmQKbxBzXA