Goodbye Christopher Robin (Review)

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Last night I watched the movie, “Goodbye Christopher Robin”. I thought I’d watch it first and see if it was appropriate to show my grandchildren, to whom I have recently introduced the poems and stories of A.A. Milne.

This is NOT a children’s movie. Instead, it is a touching and heart-wrenching story of a man haunted by the ravages of war and suffering from PTSD. A man trying to find happiness again while running from the bombs he still hears in his head long after the First World War ends.

Alan Alexander Milne was a fellow who stumbled on precious moments here and there when he was able to escape real life and delve into remarkable adventures with his young son, Christopher. Together they discovered a magical place bringing stuffed animals to life and filled with wonderous imagery that can only be conjured up by the innocence of a child.  This movie tells a gut-wrenching story revealing much more than I ever knew about the author whose books I have cherished and read to countless children over the years.

My copies of Milne’s poems and Winnie the Pooh stories are from my own childhood collection. (Reprinted from the 1926 originals and were given to me in the mid 1950’s.) Yes, my own well-loved books graced my shelves for decades and then sat in my classroom for 36 years so my students could enjoy and delight in their magic. And they currently are back where they belong… with me, on my shelves once again, to love and cherish for as long I am able to delight in them.

My grandchildren read them to me when they visit. They too have fallen under the spell of Christopher Robin and Winnie just like I did.( And like children all around the world after WWI.)
If you want to see an excellent film I highly recommend this one. I shed a lot of tears, but then it may have touched me in particular because of my connection to children’s literature and the incredible world of Winnie the Pooh. Such wonderful stories that got me through the 1950’s, and enchanted my own children, and now my grandchildren.

In the mid 1970’s I remember sketching out figures of all the characters from the Hundred Acre Woods and painting them around the bottom of my son’s bedroom wall when he was little. I even used colored contact paper for their clothing. That way, each day when he awoke, he could see Winnie and his friends there to greet him.

I personally found this film extremely touching and also quite sad. It reminded me just how damaging war is to those young people who are in the middle of battle, and how society just goes on and simply ignores the inner turmoil our veterans are feeling when they return home. A poignant statement.
If you get a chance. Check it out.

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10 thoughts on “Goodbye Christopher Robin (Review)

  1. I think you will enjoy it. It is more about a world created by a man suffering terribly from PTSD. Being a teacher and a lover of children’s literature, I especially found it endearing to discover the truth about one of my favorite children’s authors. It is beautifully done.

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  2. Thanks for this review Lesley. I thought it might be more like The Man Who Invented Christmas (based on Charles Dickens’ and A Christmas Carol), but it definitely sounds like it’s not. Your opinion has made me want to see it thought.

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  3. Oh yes, do go see it. Some of it is certainly unsettling, but since the magic has survived all these years later, I have to give Milne credit for his masterpiece. Plus, it does finally give credibility to so many soldiers who suffered with PTSD and how so many endured war and the after affects of the trauma. I just recently saw a commercial for a new Winnie the Pooh children’s movie coming out in a couple months where they use stuffed animals instead of cartoon characters and Ewan McGregor plays the grown up Christopher Robin. I can’t wait to take my grands to see that film.

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  4. “In the mid 1970’s I remember sketching out figures of all the characters from the Hundred Acre Woods and painting them around the bottom of my son’s bedroom wall when he was little.”

    What a wonderful memory and deed, Lesley! Something your son must always carry with him.

    I’m so glad you chose to review this film because, like you, I had no idea A.A. Milne’s life was so troubled. That he made such an effort to bring joy and magic into his son’s life is very moving. Thanks to your review, I can’t wait to see a film I might have missed.

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  5. So beautifully put, Miriam. Yes, PTSD was rather hush hush back then, in fact in WWI there were many men shot as traitors because they walked away from the battlefield in the midst of their suffering. If you watched Downton Abby they addressed this subject too. (The cook’s nephew was shot as a traitor for suffering from what they called shell shock.)

    I remember stories my mother told me about my father, who when he first came back from WWII would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat shaking, and then would go outside and smoke a cigarette or take a walk. My father never talked about the war to his children. But, shortly before he passed away just shy of 90, my youngest son asked to interview him for a Veteran’s Day project he was doing for school. My father, who had been a Lt. in the army, suddenly told my then 12 year old son stories about his experiences; like getting annoyed with General Patton driving through an area where my dad’s men just dug fox holes and Patton had my father’s guys fill them in as was ordered. All this extra work just to save Gerneral P from going around the holes. (Evidently Patton was a real character!) He also shared with my son when asked about being in a fox hole for days , his time in Europe etc.. I was so surprised to hear him discuss so many events. I suppose he figured enough time had passed and he could tell his grandson.
    When My Dad died, the military honored him for his service and gave us a flag and a 21 gun salute at his funeral. I didn’t even know my father had received a purple heart along with all kinds of medals. He never felt the need to brag about doing his patriotic duty. And now I realize what my mother mentioned had to be that he suffered temporaily from PTSD after the war, unlike Milne who apparently dealt with his demons for his entire life. I never noticed my father being anything but strong. But, I was born several years after he got back from the war, so I wouldn’t have known what he went through upon returning.

    I too loved all the characters from Milne’s stories. And my grandchildren now love Winnie and all his friends. My grand daughter especially, likes to read the stories out loud to me.

    I think you’d enjoy the film. It really touched my heart in so many ways. I didn’t see it in the theaters, but it is on cable now and so I watched at home. It is definitely NOT for young children, however!
    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

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  6. I do so love Christopher Robin, Winnie, Piglet, Owl…..all of them.
    Still today their wise words can give me peace.

    I did not know how A.A. Milne suffered from PTSD but this illness was first diagnosed after the first war, I believe. It has happened before and during Vietnam war they found more medical proof too.

    What a wonder that this guy found healing together with his children, creating stories that will stand the test of time.

    Miriam

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