Timeless Winnie the Pooh Still Charms
- Friday, July 15, 2011
Indeed, it is. But thankfully familiar faces are back to tell it: Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo and Christopher Robin.
These are the characters who literally first lept off the page from A.A. Milne’s beloved children’s literary classics (Christopher Robin’s character is named after his very own son and Pooh and the other characters were inspired by his son’s stuffed animals) and onto the big screen in the original Disney featurettes: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1964), Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974).
Later, Walt Disney Animation Studios combined these together for a 1977 theatrical feature called The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Since that time, the self-described “bear of very little brain” and company have made appearances in straight-to-DVD productions, but it’s been over 35 years since the animals from Hundred Acre Wood have been on the big screen.
With its hand-drawn art style inspired by illustrations and three stories from Milne’s books, Winnie the Pooh tells an updated story with timeless lessons for twenty-first century families. Not surprisingly, lovable Pooh is still looking for that next pot of “huny,” as he wakes up one morning with a tummy that’s rumbling and grumbling. With his trademark “oh, bother” expression as he goes off in search of that golden goodness, Pooh is soon sidetracked and joins the other animals in looking for Eeyore’s lost tail. Christopher Robin then announces a contest to find a new tail, and soon everyone is trying to improvise with what could possibly work as a tail for the notoriously downcast donkey: a balloon, a yo-yo, a cuckoo clock, a weather vane, an accordion and more.
Pooh later finds a note from Christopher Robin that reads “Gone out. Busy. Back soon.” Except with Christopher Robin’s “creative” spelling, over-confident Owl misinterprets it as he announces that the young boy has been captured by a creature called a “Backson.” And thus the tension is set. Will the gang band together and help find their dear friend? What will the wild quest lead them to when they finally encounter the probably really scary “Backson”? And which one will be sent into the dark woods all alone?
It’s a madcap adventure with miscommunication and expectations—both great and misguided—as friends try to help one another while sometimes hilariously missing the mark. But in the end there are lessons to be learned as relationships are strengthened, fears are faced head-on and, of course, some fun with words on the storybook’s pages is to be had.
I spoke recently with Mark Henn, the Supervising Animator for the characters of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin at Walt Disney Animation Studios, and asked him why Winnie the Pooh and the rest of his friends are still so fun to watch and learn from, for both big kids and small, these many years later.
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