The feature film Goodbye Christopher Robin takes us behind the pages of the beloved Winnie-the-Pooh books to meet the family of author A.A. Milne, and the real life adventures that inspired his stories. In the movie, we see the heartbreak of post-WWI Europe, the strain put on families by PTSD, and how one of England’s most beloved books accidentally created the first modern child star phenomenon (Christopher Robin himself). These are some of the most thought-provoking quotes from the film.
1. "Writing a book against war is like writing a book against Wednesdays."
This line is uttered by Daphne Milne when her husband expresses a desire to write an anti-war manifesto following his experience in "The Great War." He aches to make a difference in the world, but she is blunt in her realism; war always comes back around, same as Wednesdays do. It's not a quote that is pleasant or funny, but it stands out all the same as a sad reminder of the struggles faced by anyone wanting to buck society to make a positive change.
2. "Find something to be happy about, and stick to that."
Here is another complicated quote from Daphne. She says this line almost thoughtlessly, as a way to encourage her husband to move on from his PTSD and settle back into everyday life. And on the surface, it rings with some truth (if simplicity). But of course, life is far more complicated than simply finding a hobby or occupation that makes you happy, as we discover in the film. Even doing this simple task can have consequences.
3. "They are our names, and we're keeping them."
Alan Milne's only son, Christopher Robin, demands this of his family. You see, his true name is "Billy Moon," because that's what his family calls him. In fact, the Milne household is full of nicknames: Alan goes by "Blue" to both his wife and son; and they affectionately refer to their Nanny Olive as "Nou." Even the bear who inspired Pooh is really called "Edward-Bear."
"What will you call me in the book?" the boy asks his father, as they discuss the impending publication of Winnie-the-Pooh stories.
"Not Billy Moon, because that's what we call you," his father lovingly replies.
In this film's exploration of celebrity, fame, and public life, these secret names are a symbol of family solidarity for the Milnes. For any family, famous or not, outside forces so often have the power to rip relationships apart or erode trust. It's so important to hold onto markers of familial intimacy, like these names.
4. "He has to know he's important to someone. That someone cares about him."
In a truly moving scene where she confronts Alan and Daphne Milne, Olive says this of her young charge, Billy. While to the outside world, and even his parents, it appears that little Christopher Robin is the most beloved boy in the world, Olive can see that Billy is lonely, isolated, and missing the quiet life he once lived with his parents. This line is a poignant reminder that, like all of us, children experience complex emotions that they don't always know how to voice. And nothing is more crucial to a child’s development than feeling secure in the love of his family.
5. "A person should do the things the person loves, with the people a person loves. Because you never know what happens next."
This is another touching line from Olive that points to the fleeting nature of time. We may think we have all the time in the world to spend with loved ones, but life is uncertain. Situations change; wars happen; families and friends can be separated. It's crucial to live in the present - in the now- "for you do not know what a day may bring" (Proverbs 27:1).
Debbie Holloway is a storyteller, creator, critic and advocate having adventures in Brooklyn, New York.
Publication date: October 17, 2017
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