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Goodbye Christopher Robin: A Spellbinding Film

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As I sank into my theatre chair at Fox Studio and watched the film Goodbye Christopher Robin, I was touched by the many raw, ‘heart awakening’ moments. Every moment in the film had such depth and mile wide discovery.

“Goodbye Christopher Robin gives a rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children’s author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin who’s stuffed animals/toys inspire the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. Along with his mother, Daphne (Margot Robbie) and his nanny Olive (Kelly Mac Donald), Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales were bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War. But, with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family?”

Simon Curtis and playwrights Frank Boyce and Simon Vaughan give us this glimpse of what it might have been like for our ancestors to live with war and its fateful consequences. We see the damaging effects not only on the war veterans but the wives and the children of the 1920’s. It’s not often a film portrays the dramatic effect on a wife from this era, but Goodbye Christopher Robins does an excellent job of displaying the mother’s feelings as a critical part of the film.

Director Simon Curtis was captivated by the script when he read it. “It touched me on so many issues that are really close to my heart. It’s about being a parent and having children and then having to let them go. It’s about England between the wars, which was such a momentous time. It’s also about the act of creation, about the writing of one of the most beloved stories ever written.”

Over the years of watching men come back from the war, the focus was rarely on the wives of these men. In Goodbye Christopher Robin, the husband came back a different man and the wife had to disconnect from her heart to get through the loss of what they had before he was shipped off to war. It pushed her further from her heart when she didn’t allow herself to bond with her newborn son due to the fear of losing him to a future war. The journey of heartache seems too much to bear, but the filmmakers skillfully captivated the audience by showing that living in the present helps one achieve happiness.

The movie exposes you to a rare look at what might have happened behind closed doors during a family’s grief of war. Goodbye Christopher Robin was quite thought-provoking and made me wonder how many parents in this world have had post-war symptoms. How many mothers and fathers ‘parent’ their child this way and be completely unaware that they have shielded their hearts; making them unavailable for a loving connectedness so needed by their child.

For anyone who grew up with Winnie the Pooh and Friends, you knew the fanciful, entertaining book the family would read together before bedtime. I’ve enjoyed A.A. Milne’s books for years reading with my parents as a child with seven siblings all gathered around in our front room in the Hollywood Hills. I was unaware of the backstory; and, as awful as it was with the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), it makes me happy to know it was the reconnecting with nature and childlike playfulness that helped a man of war be healed of his PTSD.

This movie should be in the library of all homes so we can all get a glimpse at what our ancestors survived and what could be a true recipe for healing. Observing that one could be healed by reconnecting to nature and by connecting to what’s important to their heart was riveting and thought-provoking, something I’d like to see in more films.

I wanted to package this film up as a gift to my husband and kids. While Milnes writing has become a favorite with children around the world for almost a century, the filmmakers agreed from the start that the movie they wanted to make was an adult drama for both women and men. I feel it’s suitable for my children ages 15 and 12 to see as I know it will open their hearts to the false notion that notoriety instantly brings happiness.

I’ve always tried to live by this adage: The life you lead is the lesson you teach! We teach our children through our actions, and the film shows us what happens when we bottle up our emotions and hope they disappear. Have you ever heard the expression, “We are as sick as our secrets?” Simon Curtis did a masterful job of bringing this debilitating feeling of PTSD to the forefront of the heart of what matters the most…FAMILY!

We rarely see films depicting how fame and success can bring hardship to a family if past emotional traumas are not dealt with. “Director Simon Curtis describes the film as the story of how the Milnes became wealthy and famous beyond their dreams through the stories and the impact it had on their lives. But the center of the film is this magical period when father and son are left alone in the country for the first time. They discover each other, they enjoy each other’s imagination, and that inspires Milne to create Winnie-the -Pooh.”

“Winne-the-Pooh and his friends enchanted and charmed the world with their innocence, but they were actually born in the harrowing time for the country and written by a man who has been traumatized by World War I.” It is interesting to see the playwrights take on Christopher Robins role (also called Billy Moon) as a child who never fully receives LOVE from his parents. They were too preoccupied with their own pain. The nanny (Kelly MacDonald) was the caring figure in Christopher Robin’s life that provided the anchor to all the highs and lows encountered in his life.

I loved how Simon Curtis, Director and the writers, Frank Boyce and Simon Vaughan took the painful, emotional side affected by war and turned them into a families journey of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and forgiveness.

What comes to mind is the expression,”Everywhere you go, there you are.” It means we can’t leave our troubles behind by changing the scenery or moving to a new house; we must address what’s making us unhappy and free ourselves from the pain before we can truly feel happy and express unconditional love to others.

A.A.Milne tried to run from his PTSD by moving to his beautiful garden home in the hundred acres wood of Sussex but soon finds his problems resurface over and over again.
I’m also reminded of the notion; It’s not what happens in our life that defines us, it’s what we DO in life with what happens to us that makes us the special people we are. The choice is ours. PTSD is very real for people/parents, and it was so very cool to see how A.A. Milne might have dealt with his stressors. The remorse he felt at the end of the film was awe shattering!! I can’t wait to see it again with my family!

After rising from my theater chair, I felt strangely more alive than I had when I saw sunk down in the chair. I wanted to be a better Mom and embrace any past unsettling, emotional traumas! I drove back to the OC and ran through my front door and hugged my children. What an impactful, powerful message this film leaves the viewer.

Thank you, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Simon Curtis for taking a leap of faith on this subject matter and bringing to light all who deal with PTSD’s. Whether you’ve experienced the death of a loved one or you’ve experienced the sudden shock of sexual abuse or any circumstance that dramatically changed your life, this film redirects and helps you to re-evaluate.

I walked away happy.

A beautiful film!!

Goodbye Christopher Robin will be in theaters on October 13th.

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