Someone somewhere once said, “Youth is wasted on the young!” But is that true? Maybe it should be said, “Middle-age is wasted on the shriveled!”
How does a person enter the prime of his life and one day wake up to find a shell of himself, a wizened soul covered in a brittle exo-skeleton of duty? These questions underlie some of the struggles gently displayed in the stirring movie, Christopher Robin.
The tale-after-the-tale picks up in the last pages of A.A. Milne’s classic story, The House at Pooh Corner. Christopher Robin is leaving for his first days of school, but promises Pooh to remain his constant companion. After the opening, in rapid succession, the viewers are given glimpses into the events of Christopher Robin’s post-storybook life. The presentation is emotional, but not over much for school- aged children. The montage is set with clips of boarding school life, the young man Christopher falling in love, the hardships of going off to, and fighting in, the Great War, and then ends with his returning to England and his young family. Each snippet gives a piece of the puzzle, each adds to the total picture of the grownup he becomes. The question is, “What kind of man has this most famous of all little boys become?”
The war for our souls (our minds, our wills, and our emotions) is not won in a day, nor is it lost that way either. The decline of a man is made in stages, little surrenders for little conveniences and compromises are what constitute his destruction. Like the once-stalwart castles of middle England, the castles of our inner lives are left to crumble into ruins because of more “pressing” matters. “Modern times call for modern priorities,” some say, and “Some things are necessarily left in the past. “
The movie, Christopher Robin, challenges us to examine these ideas. Yes, we all must change as we get older, but what are we changing into?
Though the Mr. Robin of our story has unfortunately left imagination, playfulness, and rest far behind with his friends of the Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh has not.
Mr. Robin is at the brink, and when resting and playfulness seem to be the last things he needs in his life, Pooh comes looking for him. What follows is a stirring, enjoyable journey that will leave you reflecting on your own journey into the middle years of life.
Growing older is a continual process of becoming; becoming less than what we were, or becoming more. There are those things that become more useful after being used, more beautiful after aging. For them, life has worn off their crisp edges and faded their paint here and there, but for all that living, it has not cheapened them but somehow given them more value. The process of living has made them better, no more worse for the wear. The passing of time can either season us or break us.
Disney’s Christopher Robin is fragrant with the essence of A.A. Milne’s wisdom. It respects the powerful and profound insight of innocent childhood, an innocent childhood that has been filled with living ideas. It asks us, especially its older viewers, to consider again these sagely thoughts and to interpret our daily adult lives through their lens.
I highly recommend Disney’s Christopher Robin for all parents. Once they’ve experienced this movie and wiped their eyes, I am convinced it will be a great family movie for all their school-aged children too.