“GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN”
Blu-ray, DVD, Digital copy; 2017; PG for thematic elements, some bullying, war images and brief profanity; streaming via Amazon Video, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes (4K), YouTube and VUDU
Best extra: Commentary by director Simon Curtis and writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce
THE STORIES about good-natured bear Winnie the Pooh and his human friend, Christopher Robin, have not been out of print since their 1926 publication.
It didn’t need Disney’s help to remain popular. Written by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H. Shepard, it was an immediate bestseller, translated into many languages, including Latin. There’s something about that little stuffed bear and his companion toys that appeals to everyone – even after they pass into adulthood.
“Goodbye Christopher Robin” delves into Winnie’s origin. It’s a bittersweet journey as are most real-life tales. Milne and Shepard were veterans of World War I, the War to End All Wars … except it didn’t. A humorist and playwright, Milne suffered from PTSD, once called shell shock. There was no treatment at the time; victims were left on their own to “snap out of it.” When London becomes too much to handle, Milne moves his family to Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England.
Directed by Simon Curtis (“My Week with Marilyn) from the script by Frank Cottrell-Boyce (“Coronation Street,” The Railway Man”) and executive producer Simon Vaughan, follows Milne and family from their escape to Ashdown, the inspiration for The Hundred Acre Wood, through the creation of Winnie’s story, and the results of its success. Milne, played by Domhnall Gleeson, and young Will Tilston, in his debut as eight-year-old Christopher Robin called Billy Moon by his family, are supported by a fine cast, with Margot Robbie as Milne’s wife Daphne, Kelly Macdonald as beloved nanny, Olive; and Stephen Campbell Moore as Shepard.
Bonus features such as the commentary by Curtis and Cottrell-Boyce, and eight promotional featurettes explain the differences between Edwardian upbringing and modern childcare. Well-off parents left a lot – if not most – of the parenting to nannies in the early 1900s. Then there’s the scene where Christopher Robin is placed inside an enclosure to stand beside a black bear for a publicity photograph. It happened in real life, and still left us shuddering. The effects of sudden fame look authentic; in the film, it causes a rift between Billy Moon and his parents. But a journalist friend reported Billy Moon said that it wasn’t all bad: “It was exciting and made me feel grand and important.”
Nice to know.
Digtially filmed, the 1080p transfer (1.85:1 ratio) from 20th Century Fox is bathed in warm, natural color. Cinematographer Ben Smithard frames all in a nostalgic, storybook manner using light sources – sun, moon, interior lamp and fire light – to its best advantage. The story is a “revelation” and light invites us in. Detail, texture and contrast look good and are consistent throughout.
Sound is delivered through a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track instead of 7.1, an oddity in film. Dialogue comes through clearly; ambient forest sound and other environmental elements are lightly immersive, including war flashbacks. Carter Burwell, recently Oscar-nominated for his work on “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” composed a fitting, orchestral score.
A gallery with behind-scenes photos and moments from the film complete the bonus features.
Christopher Robin represents the child in all of us. His story, like that of Winnie and The Hundred Acre Woods, still speaks to the heart. “Goodbye ChristopherRobin” should appeal to those who want a peek behind the tales or who enjoy good period drama.
- Kay Reynolds