Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Goodbye Christopher Robin Film Review

I saw Goodbye Christopher Robin, and thought it was fascinating that the arrival of a son after WWI would cause so much anguish. Directed by Simon Curtis, Margot Robbie's Daphne, after no-one described to upper-class women where babies actually came from, finds the birth of a son traumatic. Having seen her husband go off to one war, she does not want to see her son also go off to war. But that is where we find ourselves at the beginning of the film, with Christopher Robin missing and presumed dead.


Domhnall Gleeson's A.A. Milne returned from the Great War, the war to end all wars, a whole, but broken man. With the buzzing of bees reminding him of the flies at The Front, and a balloon going bang a rifle's fire. Now after continuing his successful career as a London playwright he feels jaded, and suggests a move to the country. Nanny Olive, played by Kelly Macdonald, brings Will Tinston's Christopher Robin, or Billy Moon, as everyone calls him, to the magical woods with his menagerie of stuffed animals. Alan forgets his writing and enjoys raising chickens, but fun loving Daphne decides the country is not for her and returns to London.



When Nanny Olive has to go and tend to her mother, Alan and Billy are left to fend for themselves. The woods become their playground and when Billy asks Alan to write something for him. Which he will read, Alan starts thinking of writing something completely different to the book he actually wants to write about the futility of war. He invites fellow war veteran EH Shepard, Ernest, played by Stephen Campbell Moore, to sketch some ideas using Billy's toys.

Teddy becomes Winnie-the-Pooh along with Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger. And the real life Christopher Robin the smock wearing owner of the toys in Hundred Acre Wood. When Ernest illustrates a poem, Vespers, Alan sends it to Daphne, who then sends it to Vanity Fair for publication. It's a huge success and people even tear it out of the magazine to frame it.

Daphne returns, and Alan and Ernest decide to publish Winnie-the-Pooh as a book. A huge global success, the sweetness of the stories taking away some of the horrors of the war. With Christopher Robin the first celebrity child, and the focus of the public's mania. Sweet little Billy has his childhood cut short with fan mail, meet and greets, interviews, photoshoots, and even political meetings at The Houses of Parliament. Even Nanny Olive is changed to Nanny Alice because she then rhymes and can go the Palace where she is marrying one of the Guards. Whose life is awfully hard. See we all remember the poems from our childhoods.

But although Alan tries to make up for Billy's lost childhood by never writing about him or his toys again, he will always be Christopher Robin. Even at the beastly school he gets sent to. And I wasn't unhappy when his school horrors put on their uniforms to go to war.

It's the story of an unforgettable childhood that created a story that still captures hearts today. Beautifully shot with animation mixed with the real filming, and beautifully acted, it was very sweet, but always with a sorrow for the youth that was lost. Both Christopher Robins and the two generations in wartime.




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