The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Love, love, love Winnie the Pooh! Behind How to Train Your Dragon and Lord of the Rings/Hobbit it is one of the things guaranteed to put a smile on my face. I am not aware exactly of how or when I first fell in love with Winnie the Pooh; it’s been a favorite as long as I can remember. I have a copy of A.A. Milne’s book, several Disney board books, and a more recent treasury. When my brother and sister-in-law were expecting, I knew I would be getting Pooh bear items; it’s classic and works for boys or girls. Pooh celebrated his 90th birthday in 2016 and more information about his background has been released. Like the real story of a bear named Winnie (I have that book).
The movie opens once again with a storybook in the supposed nursery of Christopher Robin. The nursery is actually very reminiscent of the one from Mary Poppins, with the same bedspread, similar blocks and furniture. Our narrator gives a little background and explains that all of Christopher Robin’s friends like in a “wonderful world of make believe,” the Hundred Acre Wood. The film is made of shorter segments, like chapters; the book even flips pages between stories, with an adorable intro tune. We’re treated to several songs throughout the movie. Pooh sings as he practices his “stoutness exercises,” perfectly content to be who he is. Sadly, he is out of honey, so Pooh must go get some more and a flittering bee gives him an idea. After falling out of the tree from his initial plan to simply climb, Pooh borrows a balloon from Christopher Robin, then rolls in the mud, becoming a Little Black Rain Cloud. He floats up to the bee hive, but the bees suspect (which Pooh spells correctly, he often has more than “very little brains”) and after flying about for a bit, Pooh lands with Christopher Robin in the mud.
Next, Pooh visits Rabbit for lunch and overindulges on honey. He gets stuck when he tries to leave and no tugging or pulling works to free him. So, Pooh must wait until he’s thinner to leave. Rabbit’s not pleased by his houseguest, though he attempts to decorate Pooh’s backside (it doesn’t work out). Gopher makes an appearance (he’s not in every chapter and not often part of the core group of characters). Just when Rabbit despairs ever using his other door, Pooh budges. There’s a little parade and everyone joins in to free Pooh. A little too much “oomph” and he flies into the bee tree and is finally able to enjoy honey again.
The Hundred Acre Wood has a Blustery Day next. Pooh’s diddy takes lyrics from the book as he skips along to visit his Thoughtful Spot. After some thinking (and input from Gopher) he decides to wish his “very dear friend, Piglet” a “happy Winds-Day.” Alas, the little Piglet is blown about by the wind and becomes a kite. They run into Owl, his tree and house rocking back and forth in the wind, before it’s finally blown over. The Blustery Day turns into a Blustery Night and there’s a new sound in the Wood. Pooh, being a bear of very little brain, lets the new noise in. Turns out, it’s a Tigger! I think The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers is the most famous song from Winnie the Pooh. It’s very cheerful and “bouncy.” Tigger puts the idea in Pooh’s head that there are Heffalumps and Woozles out to steal the bear’s honey (Pooh attempts to correct Tigger by saying they’re elephants and weasels. I wonder sometimes who is the one “with very little brains.”) That sequence has always been a bit weird to me, not as cute and cuddly as the rest.
After Pooh’s dream, the windy day has become a stormy night and the following morning, the Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down Down. The lyrics tell the brief tale of Piglet’s home flooding and washing him out the window. Pooh falls off a tree branch and they’re both caught. Christopher Robin starts to mount a rescue, sending Owl to locate their friends. A waterfall causes Piglet and Pooh to swap places; Pooh is now on the chair and Piglet is in the honey pot. They wash up at Christopher Robin’s place and Christopher Robin declares Pooh to be a hero for rescuing Piglet. They throw a party once the water has receded. Yet, all this time, Eeyore has been searching for a new house for Owl. He takes the group to a lovely tree with the sign “Trespassers Will” in front; Piglet’s house (the tale is it’s short for “Trespassers William,” Piglet’s grandfather). [Yes, as adults, we realize that it probably is the beginning of “Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted” or something. It’s adorable as a child]. Piglet is cheered as a hero for letting Owl have his house. Pooh declares that Piglet will live with him.
The next chapter is about bouncing. Rabbit has had enough of Tigger bouncing him and ruining his garden. He gets the idea to take Tigger into the woods and lose him. When they find him again, Tigger will be sorry and never bounce them again (children, this is not a safe, or smart idea). Instead, when Piglet, Pooh, and Rabbit take Tigger out the next day, it is them who end up getting lost in the mist. Pooh eventually leads Piglet out by listening to his stomach. Wandering around the forest for hours leads Rabbit’s mind to play tricks on him, scaring him with the sound of frogs and caterpillars munching on leaves. He’s subsequently bounced by Tigger, who leads him out; Rabbit’s plan backfired.
But Tigger gets himself into trouble nevertheless. The first snow of the season, he plays with Roo and they decide to “bounce,” not climb a tall tree. Tiggers, while not good at ice skating, are apparently scared of heights. Pooh, and Piglet, who have been following [their own] tracks, come across the pair and go to get help. Roo has no problem jumping down. The narrator has to flip the book so Tigger can slide down the text. Rabbit attempts to hold Tigger to his rash promise to never bounce again. But their other friends are all sad and miss the old Tigger, so Rabbit caves. Tigger also points out that Rabbit’s feet are made for bouncing.
In general, the denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood are accepting of each other. No one pushes one another to be different. They all look up to Christopher Robin as their boy, but they also put up with Owl’s long stories (except when danger is imminent, such as the waterfall during the rainy day). They don’t tell Eeyore off for constantly losing his tail and they don’t want to hurt his feelings when he finds Piglet’s house for Owl. Kanga lets Roo play with Tigger, simply cautioning to “be careful” and bundle up, but she doesn’t criticize Tigger for bouncing to the top of a tree. Rabbit tends to be the sourpuss of the group, openly disliking Tigger’s bouncing, but they encourage him to accept Tigger. Piglet is never made to feel bad about being the smallest and he’s Pooh’s very best friend, an odd pair. And while Pooh is a “silly old bear,” they listen to his ideas. It was a very encouraging show as a child and demonstrates that you can be friends with anyone.
We come to the last chapter, where Christopher Robin has to go away to school. But he has a walk with his “silly old bear,” discussing “doing nothing,” and they’ll never forget each other. They stop at their iconic bridge and we’re left feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
When I was in Disney, I managed to capture a few pictures of Pooh throughout the park, but did not manage to meet him (if I ever go back, that is a goal). We rode his ride and visited the shrubberies in England. About the time I was born, Disney put out a cartoon series, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which I watched for years as a small child; it was a staple on the Disney Channel. There have been numerous other movies and shows involving Pooh Bear. I’ve seen some, like The Search for Christopher Robin. I did watch Goodbye Christopher Robin and that depressed me. I finished that movie feeling bad for ever liking Winnie the Pooh since it created bad memories for Christopher Robin. The more recent Christopher Robin movie, starring Ewan McGregor is happier. There are sad moments, as can be expected considering Christopher Robin is grown up, but the ending is happy (and in view of Mark Gatiss as Christopher’s boss, I see Mycroft from Sherlock and I want him taken down). So, Pooh and Robin Hood are certainly at the top of my list of Disney favorites; Pooh edges Robin out a little.
Questions? Comments? Who was your favorite childhood character?
Up Next: The Little Mermaid