Unmasking Disney’s Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday I found out that A.A. Milne’s Birthday was on January 18th. I’ve had this draft since summer and I don’t know why I’ve never posted it. Well, now I got a good reason. Happy (belated) B-day, Mr. Milne!!! 🙂

During my childhood, Winnie the Pooh was one of my favorite Disney characters. After my obsession of being Princess Cinderella, came the love and adoration towards Pooh and his friends. And as I grew up, the Winnie the Pooh movies were ones that I had memorized and could play them forward and backward in my head anytime. But of course, once I got to college and started studying the different genres of literature, I got interested in what was really behind that “Silly old bear” in the first place.

Winnie the PoohIn 1926, A. A. Milne wrote the famous Winnie-the-Pooh story in which we meet Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh, and all of their stuffed friends. By 1928, he’d written the second and final part of Christopher Robin’s adventures with Winnie the Pooh titled The House At Pooh Corner. Milne also wrote two poetry books which included some poems about Pooh as well.

After Milne’s death, the rights to Winnie the Pooh and his forest friends were sold to the Walt Disney Company and that’s where the sugarcoating began.

Although Milne’s books were intended to be written as stories for children, they are much more than that. They represent a child’s point of view and power of imagination; and they also bring back the reality that adults may, and do, forget about childhood itself and all that it involves. I loved the four books dearly and cannot believe that I finally, officially, read A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh collection.

However, I’m not going to lie. My first thought, reaction, my first feeling, after reading these books was pain and betrayal. Most of the famous quotes which we love and cherish deeply today were not presented in these books. I guess they were created by Disney. And I’m okay with that, but there’s this one quote that I’m sure has made a difference all around the world that’s not in the books. In the movie Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, Christopher tells Pooh,

“If ever there’s a tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must remember: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

I think that this is one of the most famous Pooh quotes around the world. So for me it was not only shocking, but agonizing to find out that the quote is not written in Milne’s books. It took me a few days to digest this information. I was confused and distraught. Pooh has always been my sanctuary, ever since I was a kid. So after reading, and analyzing the books and Disney movies, I got a theory going on: I believe this quote is Disney’s interpretation of Milne’s intended message in his stories and poems (if that makes any sense):

First: Bravery is highlighted all over Milne’s books. Pooh’s bravery, Christopher Robin’s bravery, Piglet’s, and so forth. Each character as small and diminutive and fragile as they might seem or be, in the end, they are all presented as brave, and Milne made sure to emphasize that throughout his works. Therefore, “You are braver than you believe.”

Second: People, we are talking about a stuffed bear carrying a jar completely full of honey. A stuffed animal. Let that sink in for a moment. Milne made sure that our realities didn’t overlap our imagination and the truth that we are in fact not only brave, but also strong people with good spirits and imagination, no matter age or size. For me, this is a very predominant message throughout his books. Therefore, “You are stronger than you seem.”

Thirdly, and most importantly: Pooh emphasizes all throughout the books that he is a “bear of very little brain”, that his brain is full of fluff and cannot understand long words because they confuse him. However, in Milne’s works Pooh comes up with plans to help others, tries with all his might to think outside the box, and on top of that, HE’S A FREAKING POET! He struts through the woods creating songs and poems just like that. So no matter how much he is emphasized as a “bear of little brain” or a bear full of fluff, he is in fact very VERY smart. Therefore,  “You are Smarter than you think.”

So Disney took Milne’s true essence of Winnie the Pooh and presented it to all the world in three simple lines that I believe have changed the lives of millions of people. Disney took Milne’s work and simply “Disneyfied” it. No surprise there, right?

Winnie the PoohWinnie the Pooh

But even though most of my favorite quotes are not literally written in Milne’s works, I’m glad that I got to see the real side of not only Winnie the Pooh, but also the real side of his friends.

As to the quotes, these are my favorites in each book:

Winnie-the-Pooh quotes:

  1. “How sweet to be a Cloud
    Floating in the Blue!
    Every little cloud
    Always sings aloud.’How sweet to be a Cloud
         Floating in the Blue!’
    It makes him very proud
    To be a little cloud.”
  2. “Oh, Bear!” said Christopher Robin. “How I do love you!”
    “So do I,” said Pooh.
  3. “Hallo, Pooh Bear. I can’t get this boot on.”
    “That’s bad,” said Pooh.
    “Do you think you could very kindly lean against me, ‘cos I keep pulling so hard that I fall over backwards.”
    Pooh sat down, dug his feet into the ground, and pushed hard against Christopher Robin’s back, and Christopher Robin pushed hard against his, and pulled and pulled at his boot until he had got it on.
    “And that’s that,” said Pooh. “What do we do next?”
  4. “A little consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference”. – Eeyore

The House At Pooh Corner quotes:

  1. “Think of all the possibilities, Piglet, before you settle down to enjoy yourselves”. – Eeyore
  2. “Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
    “Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
    “And he has Brain.”
    “Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
    There was a long silence.
    “I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
  3. “It’s your fault, Eeyore. You’ve never been to see any of us. You just stay here in this one corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. Why don’t you got to them sometimes?” –Rabbit
  4. […] and after they had walked a little way Christopher Robin said:
    “What do you like best in the world, Pooh?” […]
    “What I like best in the whole world is Me and Piglet going to see You, and You saying ‘What about a little something?’ and Me saying, ‘Well, I shouldn’t mind a little something, should you, Piglet,’ and it being a hummy sort of day outside, and birds singing.”
  5. “Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”
    Pooh thought for a little.
    “How old shall I be then?”
    “Ninety-nine.”
    Pooh nodded.
    “I promise,” he said.

So now I ask you, which is your favorite Winnie the Pooh quote? Be it by Milne or be it by Disney, which is yours? 🙂

Until our next time,

Adieu

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