Goodbye Christopher Robin
I was hesitant to go see Goodbye Christopher Robin. I grew up loving Winnie the Pooh, so I was afraid this movie would destroy some of the magic of the film that celebrates it’s 40th anniversary this year. I feel it is important to say in the first paragraph that this is not a movie directed at children. This is not about Christopher Robin and his friend Pooh, this is about Christopher Robin Milne the son of A.A. Milne the author of Winnie the Pooh.
Set in post World War I London, Alan Milne and his wife Daphne live a life of splendor attending fun parties and the opening shows of Alan’s plays. When Daphne has a son (she wanted a daughter as she was terrified of having to wait for her son the way she waited for her husband during war times), their world begins to change. Alan moves his family to the countryside to escape PTSD triggers from the war. Their son, Christopher Robin or known to his family and nanny as Billy, is a young boy at this time arrives at the new countryside house with his nanny, where he is greeted by Edward Bear and his parents. It is here in the woods of this house and with Edward Bear and his friends that Winnie the Pooh was born.
One thing that I found very interesting in this story was the lack of a mother in this film. Daphne Milne (Margo Robbie) is much more invested in fame than in her son. The film reaches a point where her son loves his nanny more than his own mother. This was very different, but a very necessary narrative that not every woman loves being a mother. My favorite transformation was that of Alan. When Christopher Robin is born, he holds him as far away from his body as he can, but later in the movie when Daphne goes back to the city missing the fame, Alan must take care of his son. The imagination and play that happens when bonding with his son is a storyline I did not expect from a movie based in the 20s.
The roaring 20s are one of my favorite decades to watch on the big screen. Margo Robbie’s Character has some absolutely beautiful party dresses, and she makes a pretty funny comment about prohibition. I think one of the most beautiful parts of the story is when it is explained to Christopher Robin that after the war there was so much sadness and that his father’s stories brought just a glimmer of happiness to other’s lives. When I think about the 20s I remember the flapper dresses and the wavy hair and the party scenes as that is how that decade is often displayed in art, but I often forget that during this time people are also recovering from a major war. This moment in the movie brings that all back into perspective.
This movie did not ruin Winnie the Pooh for me. It did make me feel incredibly sad for Christopher Robin who lost his childhood, but it made it much more appreciative of what he gave up for me to enjoy a little under a century later. It was fun to see what inspired these lovable characters, even if it was not always the best time. I would not take a child to see this movie, it would not hold their attention, but I think adults will like it. I give Goodbye Christopher Robin an A-.
Mary Herries

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