GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN
Released October 6
Goodbye Christopher Robin is the story of the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories written by A.A. Milne, based on the fantasy life his son Christopher Robin had created around his stuffed animals in their remote country home.
This is not a simply children’s film however. It is also an allegory for the dismantling of the power of the British Empire between World War I and World War II.
The changes wrought on all of Europe were vast – and perhaps it was the changes that triggered the wars as well.
The story of A.A. Milne and his son parallels the fall of the dominance that the culture of the British Empire had held over the Western World through the 1800’s until World War I.
The ability of the character of the British people to survive the cultural quagmire that had gripped the country, and to weather the transformation, was commendable. It is shown in this movie to be an uneasy struggle that is mirrored in a sense in the life of Christopher Robin.
A daily lifestyle that was taken for granted by the landed upper class in Britain was coming to an end, just as Christopher Robin’s life was always a bit on the verge of falling apart.
Simon Curtis, who discovered the young Daniel Radcliffe also found Will Tilston, who is wonderful in this movie as “Christopher Robin,” and his spectacular smile lights up the screen.
This young actor seems to innately understand what his character was going through and what he was searching for.
With a father suffering from his experiences in the trenches during World War I and his life in a home isolated in the countryside, this lonely child built a world around his stuffed animals.
His father grasped onto those imaginary stories as an effort to soften his own anguish. Thus was born Winnie the Pooh.
Domhnall Gleeson is excellent as A.A. Milne. He portrays the irony of the suffering of an upper class British man who goes to war and returns to his former life carrying the emotional wounds of battle.
For Milne, war was the ultimate class equalizer on a personal scale. Christopher Robin takes his Dad’s pain in stride, as children do, and helps him break through the suffering, only to be bullied himself in boarding school later in his childhood.
Kelly McDonald is memorable as Christopher Robin’s nanny, the one constant in his life. She is more of an influence in his life than is his mother, played by Margot Robbie.
Robbie’s character almost seems like a cypher, incompletely drawn, whose main drive is the urge to distance herself from her relationships with her son, her husband and her home.
The origin of the Winnie the Pooh stories that brought happiness to so many of our young imaginations, was not exactly all sweetness and light. This is evidence to my belief that comedy and tragedy come from the same heart.
As Christopher Robin’s nanny so thoughtfully tells him, “After the war there was so much sadness. Then Winnie the Pooh came along.”
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people.