Winnie the Pooh
By Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
“Winnie the Pooh” is the “sweetest” movie to come out of
Disney in a long time. No high concept story lines, no Pixar CGIs
(action-capture computer generated images), just a dulcet tale of Christopher
Robin’s (voice of Jack Boulter) stuffed animal collection come to life.
One morning in the Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh (Jim
Cummings has been the voice of Pooh since the 1970s; for the complete cast see www.imdb.com),
wakes up very hungry and goes looking for honey for breakfast. Owl knocks on
Christopher’s door and misreads a note that he left saying he has “Gon out;
Backson”. Owl misunderstands the boy’s misspelling and thinks that “Backson” is a monster of some kind. He convinces
Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit,
Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo, and Eeyore to band together and save their friend.
they have a contest to see who can find a new tail for Eeyore, the loveable
donkey who hardly ever looks on the bright side. And all the while, Pooh is
looking for “huny”!
are so many things to love about this little 70-minute film. The story is a
blend of three of A.A. Milne’s (1882 - 1956) stories. He wrote the original
book in 1926 and the next in 1928. E. H. Shepherd (1879 -1976) illustrated the
books. Both the author and artist used
their children and their stuffed animals for inspiration, though “Winnie” was
named after a bear smuggled into London from Canada by a soldier from Winnipeg
after World War I and kept at the London zoo, and “Pooh” was the name of a real
live swan. It is interesting to note that when the contract was made with
Disney to produce these stories and the art in film, it was the first book to
film (and other ancillary products) licensing agreement ever made.
film uses the actual illustrated book as the backdrop, and the letters and
words and paragraphs are all used as part of the story. The letters fall and
flow off the page and become characters a second time over. When the friends
are all stuck in the trap they dug for the Backson, the letters of a tome flow
off the page and make a ladder for the stuffed animals to save themselves.
the lesson of choosing friends over one’s self (this is the key moral of the
story), it is a movie about literacy, reading, language, learning, writing and
understanding. I loved the honor the
film pays to the joy of reading and the hope it can give us – books, as well as
all story-telling media: cinema, television, music and song - can give us hope when we need it the most.
“Mr. Poppin’s Penguins” was all about alliteration, “Winnie the Pooh” is the
champion of homonyms, words that sound the same but are spelled differently and
mean something different. For example, the friends get all tied up in “nots”,
“knots” and “naught” to the great amusement of the audience.
friends are spelling and literacy challenged but what one does not know,
another one does. They are a team. Even when it seems like they are turning
into a kind of army to protect themselves from the Backson, the visuals are
created in a way that attracts us more to the characters and their silliness
than the threat of violence. I think there is only one place in the film when
Tigger bops another animal on the head. They find a way to get along in their
little utopia; after all, everyone has what they need. The biggest threat to
their peace is their collective imagination.
Facebook friend was concerned that her 3-year old might not like the loud noise
of the film, given the reality of animated films today. What surprised me most
about “Winnie the Pooh” were the soft tones of both sight and sound. I loved
the voice of Jim Cummings – older and a little scratchy.
sound track and theme song blend well with the film. However, this is the only
aspect that seemed somewhat “Disney-ized” though the music fit the film well
and did not overwhelm it.
As we know from the new documentary “Queen of the Sun” the
existence of honeybees is threatened worldwide due to lack of crop diversity
and chemical pollution. In “Winnie the Pooh” there is a truly special quality
of comfort and I hope more will follow. And if you are trying to avoid foods
and confections sweetened by corn products, this will make you yearn for real
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