Christopher Robin brings the classic Winnie the Pooh characters that children love to life, but it does so with a story that is considerably more grown up. CinemaBlend's own Eric Eisenberg attended a roundtable interview with stars Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell where the pair spoke about their new film and the very adult concepts it struggles with. For Hayley Atwell, Christopher Robin beautifully deals with the misunderstandings that come from a child who feels unloved because a parent isn't around, and the parent who isn't around out of love for that child. According to the actress...
I think most adults can relate to it. And not just actors who travel a lot, but anyone who has the responsibilities of... we're talking about the misunderstanding that's so kind of beautifully observed at this where you have -- all that a child wants is that parent's attention. And yet, the adult is going, 'What you don't understand is I have to provide your safety, your housing, all of these things, and in order to do that, it takes me away from you.' I think that's a very, very sophisticated concept for a child to grasp. But all they see is their parent not being there. And they're speaking different languages of love, really. And I think that's what the film addresses very beautifully, that even if, you know, if the parent goes out or has to work late hours because those hours provide the food to look after that child, the education that the child benefits from in the future. All these things that a child can't possibly grasp and the poignancy of that, and then how that can be misunderstood at times. I think it is so beautifully addressed in this.
Certainly, this is a conflict that every parent has dealt with from time to time. A child's needs, while sometimes complicated to provide, and rarely complicated to understand. They want to be happy, they want to be safe, they want to be loved. However, a parent providing for those needs often is left unable to provide as much time or attention as either person wants. It's simple enough in movies like this, which have certainly been done before, to paint the parent as uncaring or too driven by a need to succeed, but in Christopher Robin, that's not the case. There's no question that the title character loves his family, it's out of that love that he chooses to work so hard, in order to provide for the people he loves.
Of course, part of the reason that the family dynamic exists as it does in Christopher Robin is that the film's setting, in post World War II London, was a time when this sort of family relationship, with a slightly distant father figure, wasn't necessarily uncommon. Ewan McGregor came to appreciate his own relationship with his children by playing Christopher Robin, and realizing that if he had become a father in an earlier era, he might not have had the same sort of relationship with them. According to the actor...
On top of that, there's the time that it's set in. And my relationship with my children is entirely different to my father's relationship with his father. My dad was born in '41, I guess, so probably he might have been around about the same age as Christopher Robin's daughter in this story. That was interesting to me was to play a man -- who is probably slightly far-fetched in a way -- that he's aware that he's not close with his daughter. And a man of that generation probably wouldn't even have considered that, because it wasn't an issue. But somehow in our film, Christopher Robin is. There's an awareness that he would like... he realizes that he's not as close to her as he would like to be. And by the end of the film he is. And that was a nice journey for me to take, knowing what it is like to be a father, with the child now, and how close we are versus what it might have been like then in the 1940s.
While Christopher Robin sees the return of some classic characters from children's literature, its story is truly one for adults, specifically, parents, who might need the help of Winnie the Pooh to get a new perspective on things. Christopher Robin is in theaters now.