The F***You Up #filmreview #goodbyechristopherrobin

You wonder at some people. I enjoyed Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy so, as a sort of instinct I thought only good of the man. Then, a few days ago he was interviewed in a National Sunday, dissing Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows. Utterly unwarranted and exposes the inane arseholey in the man.

And then again AA Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh, famously dissed PG Wodehouse in a spat covering many years and that, too is unforgivable. The creator of Bertie Wooster cannot be treated thus.

What Wodehouse did in  return was to accuse Milne of exploiting his son, the eponymous Christopher Robin, for financial gain and self aggrandisement. He wrote the same into a story and Milne, humourless to the last never forgave him.

Which is one of the themes of my latest cinematographical experience, GoodBye Christopher Robin.

This is a good film, taking its start point when AA and his wife think Christopher Robin has been killed in action during WW2. We then back track to Milne Senior after WW1 and him trying to cope with the aftermath, the recurrent horrors. How bees terrified him, as reminders of the flies on the corpses in the trenches, or an exploding balloon taking him back to nightmarish bombardments. He is portrayed as an ardent pacifist throughout though history suggests that was on the wane by the end of the 1930s.

His wife, all brittle self control apparently masking a crippling lack of self confidence, is characterised as the driving force behind both Milne writing the Pooh stories and then exploiting their son to publicise them. Maybe that is unfair on her.  Milne is also guilty through his own wilful ignorance. Eventually he realises what he is doing but not before the little boy is dragged from his childhood into the adult world with little regard for the impact it is having on him.

Ashdown Forest, inspiration of the 100 acre wood and all things Pooh

The themes aren’t unexpected, given this is pretty well known territory (though there is depth in how the film lets you understand the reasoning behind how it came about); what was well done was a form of reconciliation between father and son, or maybe of understanding at some level: when CR realised that many of his fellow servicemen adored his father’s books simply because they took them back to the safety of their childhood memories and relieved them from the horrors of war, even if only briefly, the film suggests that some of his anger dissipated.

In fact they remained estranged.

But the tweeness of the stories is where in effect we find the substance of Pullman’s criticism. That the stories do not prepare children for adulthood. That they aren’t what children want but rather are how adults perceive childhood. The return to that place of safety, of unbridled happiness.

And it’s true; adults want to preserve while children want to escape. But really, did I… did my children… ever begrudge being read to about Pooh and Piglet? Or Moley and Badger come to that? Of course not. So back off Pullman. That bear isn’t for baiting. Not on my watch. It may lack some historical accuracy but this a film to escape into, at least for a while.

Apparently there is a shortage of good vanilla at the moment which meant an absence of my usual at the gellateria opposite the East Dulwich Picturehouse – While there I noticed a new cheese shop had opened, a sure sign of excessive gentrification, next door, which I suppose I will have to trial. Back to the gelato;However the latte version was an acceptable alternative, if a little weak, flavour-wise. And reasonably priced considering the market hereabouts is all Tim and Tina cullottes and chia-infused organic cat food.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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41 Responses to The F***You Up #filmreview #goodbyechristopherrobin

  1. Ritu says:

    It’s another on my to watch list!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. M. L. Kappa says:

    Hmmm… Interesting. But the writer is not the man, in many cases. Apparently
    T.S. Elliot was a horrible person to be with, and I think in some ways so was Nabokov. It’s easy to be admirative if one loves the writing. In any case, Winnie is for younger children than Pullman’s books, so I don’t think there’s a necessity for comparison.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. M. L. Kappa says:

    On the other hand, I’ve been to talks by some writers where I really would have liked to meet them. They were really inspiring (Doris Lessing, Amos Oz, Julian Barnes and Margaret Atwood, especially)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mary Smith says:

    I do want to see this. As for Pullman’s comment about the Pooh stories not being what children want, I don’t know how he can be so sure. I think children, especially when they are still at an age when they enjoy being read to, take in just about everything with relish – from Grimm’s fairy stories to The Wind in the Willows; from Pooh to Paddington.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. gordon759 says:

    ‘People don’t want this’ is a phrase used by people who actually mean ‘I don’t want this, and as I am in position to decide what people have, I will give them what I think they need.’
    The phrase has been used by BBC executives about popular types of programme, that they don’t want to make, National Trust executives about country houses, theatre manages about traditional types of production, council ‘cultural officers’ about libraries etc.
    So, whenever you hear the phrase, look out for a petty tyrant who thinks that people are stupid but won’t come out and say so.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. tidalscribe says:

    I have loved Pooh Bear all my life – though not the Disney version. The stories and simple drawings speak for themselves. All life is there. One year at a youth group summer camp in Australia one of the chaps read a chapter each breakfast time to 15 – 30 year age range. We all loved it. I don’t see why children should not have a cosy world in books – the same cosy world we parents and grandparents like to retreat to when we read to children.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. trifflepudling says:

    Well, the CR stories may not have been what Pullman enjoyed when he was little, but a lot of us certainly did, and still do. The function of children’s stories isn’t necessarily to prepare them for life. Anyway, I haven’t read any of Pullman’s stuff, so yah boo to him!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Allie P. says:

    I may never look at the Winnie the Pooh books the same way.

    As I often write posts about my children, I do feel as if I am dancing on that fine line. On one hand, I want to respect their privacy and yet, on the other hand, I know their stories are the ones that are most relatable and because they are relatable, have the most impact.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 😀 😀 😀 chia-infused organic cat food
    My kids LOVED all the Pooh books and I LOVED reading them and giving voice to the characters – and we can all still do our version of Eeyore when any occasion warrants it. I’ve read about the ruination of CR’s life due to the books and I’m not sure I want to see a film about it. (Perhaps his life would have been ‘ruined’ by his parents even had the books not been written.) I think Winnie the Pooh and all his pals down there in 100 Acre Wood have taken on their own lives exactly because of their personalities in their never-ending idyllic childhood and never changing stories. I was taken there once and admit to a feeling of disappointment that I didn’t see a little bear gambolling or a Kanga, Wol or Eeyore strolling by. Generations of children and parents have loved the books, generations more will continue to enjoy them I am sure (despite Disney effing it all up).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Phil Taylor says:

    Very interesting. I didn’t know the history of the Winnie the Pooh books.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. willowdot21 says:

    Sad, sad I think I shall give it a miss!! 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  12. JT Twissel says:

    Movies about writers have nothing unless the writer in question has some nastiness in his life. No movie (to my recollection) has ever been attempted about JRR Tolkien!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You put it perfectly with “It may lack some historical accuracy but this a film to escape into, at least for a while.”. I loved it.

    Like

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