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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Winnie the Pooh

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, 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.
Meanwhile, 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”!
There 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.
The 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.
Besides 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.
If “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.
The 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.
A 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.
The 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 honey.

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George: If Mary Magdalene was the victim of misunderstanding, George is the object of a vast amount of imagination. There is every reason to believe that he was a real martyr who suffered at Lydda in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine. The Church adheres to his memory, but not to the legends surrounding his life. 
<p>That he was willing to pay the supreme price to follow Christ is what the Church believes. And it is enough.</p><p></p><p>The story of George's slaying the dragon, rescuing the king's daughter and converting Libya is a 12th-century Italian fable. George was a favorite patron saint of crusaders, as well as of Eastern soldiers in earlier times. He is a patron saint of England, Portugal, Germany, Aragon, Catalonia, Genoa and Venice.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus was equal to the Father but did not feel it was below his dignity to obey. We cannot be free unless we are able to surrender our will freely to the will of God. We must obey with full freedom in a spirit of unity and submission and through wholehearted free service to Christ.

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