When my son, Scott, was a child, he had major surgery. Though it ripped my heart out to watch the nurses wheel him off to the operating room, I was comforted because he did not go off alone, he went off clutching his beloved friend, Pooh Bear. Pooh went on to star in many family stories through the years and was eventually handed down to Scott’s children. I find it beautiful and amazing that thirty-plus years later, when Scott’s son had to have surgery, the same Pooh Bear kept vigil over my grandson for the three-hour ordeal.
I could regale you with more Pooh Bear stories and I am certain that many readers could likewise tell tales, but that’s my point. Lots of us have a warm spot in our hearts for Winnie the Pooh. Feeling as I do, it was a given that I would see the new movie, Goodbye Christopher Robin, which is the story of Alan Alexander Milne and how he came to write this book. By the way, it was first published in 1926, has been translated into 50 languages (including Latin), and has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
Here are the main plot points from the movie:
- A. A. Milne was an accomplished writer prior to serving in World War I and prior to writing the children’s classic.
- Upon his return from war, he suffered frequent flashbacks.
- Thanks to his status as a wealthy Englishman he enjoyed all the trappings of his class including a huge estate and a full-time nanny to watch his only child, Christopher Robin, affectionately known as Billy Moon.
- When Nanny is away for a family emergency Alan Milne is suddenly in charge of his child. Their play becomes the stuff of his writing.
- The HUGE success of the book had many ramifications, not all of them good.
- Christopher Robin’s peers teased him mercilessly through his lifetime which caused an estrangement between father and son.
- Long years later, Christopher Robin’s experiences in World War II bring him an altered perspective on the much-loved book carrying his name.
- Even so, the movie ends telling us that Christopher Robin never touched a penny of the proceeds from his father’s book.
There are two main lessons in this story, one heartbreaking and one hopeful. The first is that even “good” life events – like huge literary success – can bring unexpected, unintended, and painful consequences. And the second is that time heals a lot of wounds.
I was so intrigued by this movie that I came home and fact-checked it. Thus, I read an article in History VS Hollywood that says Christopher Robin Milne really did use some of the proceeds from the classic book. He dipped into these funds to improve the life of his severely disabled daughter, Clare.
I was happy to read this. It means that Christopher Robin and Clare, in their own way, clutched Winnie the Pooh through tough times, just like my son and grandson did. That’s a much happier ending…and I like happy endings.
Our family’s Pooh Bear from the 1970s.