The Worldview of Winnie the Pooh

Sometimes Hollywood gets it right. Disney’s “Christopher Robin” is a treat for any age, offering humor, nostalgia, and inspiration. If you’re looking for a family film with zero curse words and no innuendo, then now is the time to head to the theater. Movies like this don’t come along often anymore.

A.A. Milne, creator of the beloved honey obsessed bear, patterned his imaginary world after the real one. His son, Christopher Robin Milne had a stuffed bear, a pig, a donkey, and a tiger, all of whom show up in the stories, and most of which are available to see in the New York City Public Library.

Winnie-the-Pooh isn’t bare of intellectual intentions.  Some have credited A.A. Milne’s popular Pooh character as a vehicle for eastern philosophy. None of that shows up in the film, though. You can decide for yourself if you think it’s there to begin with, in the pages of the original stories.

As an aside, there are some interesting parallels between A.A. Milne and C.S. Lewis, who were contemporaries. Both are from England and fought in WWI. Both contracted trench fever in the war (along with J.R.R. Tolkien). Both wrote poetry—and truth be told—would have preferred to be remembered as poets. Yet, for both men, their children’s books overshadowed their literary careers.

Unlike Lewis, however, Milne doesn’t seem to have been a man of strong faith. One of the reasons may have been Milne’s reservations about the Old Testament, summarized in his quote that it “is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief—call it what you will—than any book ever written; it has emptied more churches than all the counter-attractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course.”

In a heartbreaking turn of events, Christopher, the boy for whom Pooh was created, grew to resent his father. In addition to being sent to boarding schools where he was bullied and taunted for his fictional namesake, he felt that his father built his success on his “infant shoulders,” in return giving him nothing but the “empty fame of being his son.”

Like the eastern philosophy, you won’t find any of the family drama showing up in the film either. But knowing a bit more of the story behind the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh makes the movie seem all the more redemptive. As you can see from the trailer, it’s the tale of a man who learns proper priorities.

If not in real life, at least Christopher Robin could experience it on the big screen. We have our families for such precious little time. May we not squander it chasing careers and fame. As a silly old bear once reminded us, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”