On Christopher Robin, War and PTSD
By Robin Wright
By Robin Wright
Named by my parents after Christopher Robin, I’ve been a lifelong Pooh-ologist. I memorized A. A. Milne’s “Vespers”—an enchanting little poem about his son’s bedtime prayers—as a tot decades ago. I can recite it still. That first poem, published in 1923, paved the way for the quartet of books that launched the winsome boy and his stuffed pal Winnie-the-Pooh, among the most cherished of characters in children’s literature. Last year, I visited the original bear and his chums—Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, and Roo—where they reside, behind glass, in the children’s reading room at the New York Public Library. The century-old toys had just returned from rehabilitation at the stuffed-animal hospital, the librarian told me. For months now, I’ve eagerly awaited the première of “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” the film based on the real life of Christopher Robin Milne, the son of A. A. Milne and the basis for the mythical child. I hoped it would restore the simple sweetness of the narrative and the characters, from before they were Disneyfied.
In its many layers, the movie does much more. Pooh is largely a prop for a very adult exploration of the clash between reality and innocence, war and peace, privacy and fame, and parent and child. For all the sunny cinematography and British-esque scenes in the re-created woods of Sussex, the movie is candid about life’s cruelties, as well as the illusions that create much-needed escape.
It is antiwar at its core.