My Problem with Pooh and Christopher Robin too.

Unexpectedly I came to see the (2017) film Goodbye Christopher Robin which tells the tale of the world famous Playwright and Author A.A Milne but most notably as author of Winnie- the Pooh. First published in the wake on the first world war in 1926, the film follows Milne known to his family as Blue as he returns from the first world war with shell shock or what we now may recognise as PTSD. Devastated by his time at the Somme Blue wants to write a book about war, encouraging peace for future generations; but that is not the story that finds him.

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Thanks to the decision to move his young family to the Sussex country side Blue started to spend more time with  his young son known to the family as Billy Moon and his beloved bear affectionately named Edward  (would later be re-named Winne-the-Pooh). I saw a video with the films director and he talks about how Blue and his wife Daphne were very much of their time, how it wasn’t uncommon to have baby and continue on with life as if nothing had happened only seeing the child for half an hour in the morning and evening. Looking at the relationship of Billy, Daphne and Blue through modern eyes is difficult and it is almost impossible not to judge their relationship. Billy Moon has a nanny Nou whom he adores and as the film unfolds I found myself wondering in a house or family like this when a child has so little access to their own parents who is really Billy Moon’s mother is it Daphne or is it Nou?

In later life a grownup Christopher Robin is even quoted when describing Nou as ‘Almost a part of me’ and they remained close for her entire life.

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Blue and Billy eventually get to bond when both Nou and Daphne are away from the house hold leaving the pair alone together with no choice but to either sink or swim. Blue eventually discovers what a bright and vibrant imagination his son has discovering the names of his favourite toys, which along with Edward Bear included Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore the depressed Donkey. They play together in the long hot summer days just Blue, Billy and his toys and Billy’s imagination that essence of childhood become the inspiration for A.A Milne’s most famous creation, his Winnie the Pooh stories. The Stories were an instant success, lifted up on the back of the tragedy of World War One ‘the country is wounded’ Blue cries to his wife Daphne in the film and with the help of Winnie the Pooh they could remember that life could be good again and life was worth living after all.

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But by writing about his son and his toys  Blue was effectively selling his sons childhood to the masses. The books were an instant stand out success and at one point Christopher Robin who was slowly but surely losing his identity as Billy Moon was named the most famous child in the world. Comparing it not just to today’s standards but famous children throughout history there are very few examples where child stars come off unscathed. Christopher Robin was more famous than his father A.A Milne and his mother was  not only the driving force behind commercialising Milne’s’ books also could see what a commodity her son was becoming. He would do interviews and photographs, signings; all the while Edward Bear had become Pooh and no longer just belonged to him but him and millions of other people all over the world. Billy Moon’s real problems started when he attended boarding school at age nine. It is depicted in the film but the real Christopher Robin had spoken of it many times in his books and interviews over the years that he was consistently bullied for being the child in his father’s books and poems he was pushed kicked and repeatedly pushed down the stairs.  He felt his father had ‘climbed on the back of my infant shoulders’ to forge his career leaving Billy without any identity and with no say in how famous he had become and he was famous for no real reason.

Eventually Billy Moon would shed his Christopher Robin identify all together when he joined the army and became Private Milne. He would survive the war and later marry his first cousin. This would cause great strain on his relationship with his parents one that was already full of emotional entanglements and resentments.

goodbye christopher robin

Daphne and Christopher soon to wife’s father were brother and sister and did not get on and the marriage between the pair further strained his relationship with his mother who was a hard woman at times and is depicted as such in the film. As he grew into a man Christopher seemed to always looking back to his childhood his was filled with a bitter resentment towards the books and what they did to his life and was still angry at his father. He did not speak or see to his father until he was on his death bed and Daphne and Christopher would never reconcile.

Goodbye Christopher Robin did a good job of showing that Daphne and Blue were flawed humans and their relationship with him was fraught. But it ends right when a young Christopher Robin gets home from war, the viewers never gets to know how it ended for the family and how they would never be reconciled. How Christopher would never take a penny from the Winnie the Pooh franchise but eventually when he and his wife had a disabled daughter they were eventually forced to take some money to pay for her care  ‘For Clare’ I read  him say, which is both beautiful that he loved his child in a different way than his he parents loved him but tragic that he had to forgo his principles in the end and his wishes to separate himself from Pooh.

The origin story of Winnie the Pooh is a sad one but it got me thinking about the new Christopher Robin movie to be released this year. (2018) When you’re telling the story of an adult Christopher Robin who famously came to hate Pooh Bear shouldn’t how he really felt about his situation be addressed?

Christopher Robin Movie

I get it, this is Disney and this is the sentimental tripe we love, it has echoes of Robin William’s Hook to me and I’m sure it will be a box office smash. But where does the morality come in? The Little boy Christopher Robin is immortalised in book form destined to be playing with his ‘Silly old Bear’ forever but the adult man who grew up and away from Pooh does he stop mattering cause he’s dead? When did we stop caring about truth? Honestly I think that this movie is a morally bankrupt idea, and yes people will love it because it’s Disney but they will be loving a lie somehow I don’t think I will ever look at Winne- the -Pooh ever the same way again and that’s both a good and a bad thing.

Come Find Me!

Disney Winnie the Pooh

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Testament Of Youth – Film Review

Testament Of Youth is the story of Vera Brittan, adapted from her war memoir of the same name; many claim Vera’s book  to be the best documentation of the First World War that has ever been written. Testament of Youth is the horrors of the First World War told from a woman’s perspective and the terrible reality of being the one left behind.

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The film follows Vera (Alicia Vikander) who is desperate to go to Oxford University with her brother Edward and their friends Victor Richardson and Roland Leighton. Edward begs his father to allow Vera to take the interviews and exams and after much negotiating he agrees, she is accepted. Ecstatic to be able to study at such a prestigious institution alongside her friends she makes plans for her future and intends to pursue her dream of becoming a writer.

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It is during her last summer before starting Oxford that Vera begins a romance with Roland ( Kit Harrington) they have everything in common their love of literature and a shared respect for women’s rights, but then the war happens. Roland, enlists followed by her beloved brother Edward (Taron Egerton) and soon after Vera’s best friend Victor (Colin Morgan) is drafted and she is all alone and she knows he can no longer study at Oxford she must do something. She cannot stay buried in books when her boys are fighting for their lives.

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A beautiful story of the lost generation Vera’s life from the moment the war started was immersed in tragedy. If you don’t know what happened to Vera and the boys I won’t spoil it for you but this film really showed the horrors of the First World War. Not in a gruesome way that we often see in Hollywood films but in passionate heart felt way, what it must have felt like to be female to have loved ones in mortal peril and have very little you could do about it.

This story is tragic, poignant and I hope Vera, Roland, Edward and Victor are never forgotten,

5/5 Stars

A Promise (2013) Review

So what happens when Severus Snape and Robb Stark are in love with the same woman?

Chaos guys. Just chaos.

Based on the post humerus novella by Stefan Zweig A Promise directed by  Patrice Leconte is set in 1912 and beyond. When a young  engineering  graduate Friedrich Zeitz (Richard Madden) comes to work for an aging tygoon  Karl Hoffmeister (Alan Rickman) he learns of his employers deteriorating health and is soon, having earned the affections and respect of Hoffmeister helping him run the company as he becomes more and more bedridden.

A promise

The problems start when Madden meets Lot (Rebecca Hall)  Hoffmeister’s much younger and beautiful wife and an attraction begins to grow between the two. Lot is a devoted wife and unwilling to betray her ailing husband until, she finds out that Madden is being sent by Hoffmeister to Mexico for two years.

Finally the two declare there feelings for each other and make a vow to love each other, write to one another and be together when their two year separation is over.

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Of course their separation was to be for longer than two years, with the out break of war imminent it would be six years before the lovers saw each other again and with years, continents and war to separate them a lot will change.

I have not read the book and believe me I plan on it because the films premise was… interesting.

This was a indie film so by no means am I going to compare it to any of it’s big budget contemporary’s I liked the story and with out getting all spoiler-y (big twist cough cough) is just I thought the whole thing was a little rushed.

With in eight minutes of the film  the main character had, arrived at his new job, met his boss, had dinner with him, been promoted and fallen for Lot and the film continues in this fashion.

Over all I would A Promise is a good film, it has sparked my interested and made me want to read the novella Journey into the Past and above all it was nice to see Professor Snape and the King in the North alive and well.

 

A New York Winter’s Tale – Review (Spoilers)

A New York Winter’s Tale or Winter’s tale is based on the bestselling and beloved novel by Mark Helprin it is the story of Peter Lake a thief and a wanted thief too boot. Wanted by his old boss Pearly (by reasons unknown) Peter and his flying horse yes you read correctly, break into house of a wealthy family believing that no body at home.

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Peter and Beverly

When he discovers  the daughter of the house Beverly Penn is still in the house, Peter and Beverly fall immediately in love over a good old fashion cup of tea and the rest is history… or not. Beverly has consumption and is going to die so their time together is limited and spent being chased by Pearly who is later revealed to be a servant of the devil.

A WINTER"S TALE

 

Dancing

Now it was at this point where I had a problem, suspend your belief I was told by people who had previously seen the film, and so I did, even when Peter’s horse for a reason which is never explained grew WINGS and took flight my belief remained suspended. Until we meet Lucifer and out walks, wait for it, Will Smith, I had to laugh, you’re telling me that the Fresh Prince, Hitch, is the Devil, I’m sorry but no, just no. I watched his face trying to be all mean and dark, all the while waiting for him to make a joke (He didn’t but he may as well of done, who made that casting choice what a joke!)

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Peter and Horse

Okay so Pearly, servant of Lucifer obviously his against true love, he must stop them  being together we get it but seriously… BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Russell Crowe as Pearly has the worst Irish accent I have ever heard proper leprechaun chic. (Sorry Russell but I hear Noah is going to be good) The acting in this film on the whole was great and Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay as Beverly Penn and Peter Lake were very believable. Winter’s Tale is a big book and fantasy realism is hard to put to the screen because it isn’t one thing or the other sadly I heard this film was a long coming passion project which makes it even worse that it was such a flop.

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Russell Crowe as Pearly

But, without having read the book (which I will be reading this month) I would say the biggest problem with the story was world building (there wasn’t any!). There was to many unanswered questions to make the story believable. For example why is the horse really a dog? And why he can  fly is never really explained, the topic of guardian angels is briefly touched upon but there was never really enough substance.

I love the reincarnation side to the story but by this point in the film there had been already been so many bad points to achieve a decent ending for the story.

ANYW5

Reincarnated 

A beloved novel that has been adapted poorly, fantasy realism is a hard genre to take on and I have read that many said that Winter’s tale could never be brought to the screen. I think perhaps they were right.

Cheerful Weather For The Wedding Review

I feel as though I have been a little slow on the uptake when it comes films recently – or at least good films, I put this down to the fact that I am drowning in books. I have no excuse I know but it’s the only one I’ve got.  Cheerful Weather For The Wedding was adapted for the screen from Julia Strachey 1932 novella by Persephone books the cover painted by Lamorna artist Harold Knight is stunning.

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The summer before…

I finally got round to watching the film Dir Donald Rice and staring Felicity Jones and Luke Treadaway it is also has fabulous and hilarious supporting cast including Elizabeth McGovern, Mackenzie Crook and Ellie Kendrick.

The film and novella  are about a young woman called Dolly and are set on the morning of her winter wedding day.While her rather curious family are down stairs she is upstairs in her room, drinking rum, vomiting, and acting nothing like the traditional movie bride we have all come to know and love/sneer and laugh at. Throughout the film Dolly continues to barricade herself in her bedroom becoming further and further acquainted with rum, avoiding one particular guest who waits to see her desperately before she says I do. The story is told though a series of flash backs between the summer before the wedding and the present from either Dolly’s or the waited guest (Joesph’s) perspective.

Keeping their nerve

Dolly’s family I think  are great representation of every family and it is Dolly’s family who make the film great. The deaf uncle, the child with home made cherry bombs and his two parents begging him to behave and failing miserably. A husband who’s wife loathes his family and the judgmental mother who will always disapprove of her child’s choices and is blind of the real goings on to her own family, and siblings who in spite ourselves we sneer at and find a constant, reliable source of amusement.

Goodbye my love

Cheerful Weather For a Wedding is a realistic love story told through the eyes of the leading man on the morning  the love of his life is set to marry another man. The story is written beautifully and shows the complexities of women, it also portrays how saying what you feel is difficult no matter your sex and how sometimes the end of the story is simply goodbye.

 

Summer in February – Film review

Summer in February  is adapted from the novel of the same name by Jonathan Smith which was based on the real life goings on of the Lamorna artist colony in 1913.

The colony was lead by the rather brash,  bold English artist A.j Munnings with a reputation for his love of women and his passion for art his character in the film is  portrayed by  Mama Mia’s Dominic Cooper.

Gilbert and Florence

Gilbert and Florence

When Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning) an aspiring artist joins her brother Joey at the colony one rainy evening it is the beginning of a fatal love triangle that would haunt two men for the rest of their lives. Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens) takes an immediate shine to Florence and his feelings only grow as the days and nights go on. It is quite obvious to all around how Gilbert feels including Florence and A.J who, although flighty is Gilberts best friend and Gilbert holds him in high regard and his feelings are reciprocated.

A.J (Alfred) Munnings

A.J (Alfred) Munnings

Unexpectedly Florence who had previously appeared to show no interest in A.J  other than mild irritation and willingness to learn from his talent excepts his sudden proposal of marriage.

Florence and A.J

Florence and A.J

From the moment she and A.J are wed, their somewhat shaky romance goes down hill, Florence expresses her wish to Gilbert that she had married him instead, igniting an affair, all set in the heart of Lamorna, Cornwall which only adds  to the beauty and the passion of this film. The three main actors portray their characters beautifully, and Summer in February is a very well done adaptation of real life events and a stunning novel.

Gilbert and Florence

Gilbert and Florence

The Novel Summer in February was written by Dan Stevens’ teacher who told him he would make a terrific Gilbert, the film has been in production for eight years and this haunting tale has been in the works long before the world of Downton Abbey reached out screens.

Gilbert and Florence

Gilbert and Florence

The Famous painting of Florence painted by A.J hung in Gilberts house, above his fire place until he died.

The Morning Ride

The Morning Ride by A.J Munnings

It really is a must see, sad and poignant and well worth the time.