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Film / Goodbye Christopher Robin

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Goodbye Christopher Robin is a 2017 film directed by Simon Curtis.

It is a Biopic of A. A. Milne and how he came to write the Winnie the Pooh books. Domhnall Gleeson plays Milne and Margot Robbie plays his wife Daphne.

A war veteran, A.A. Milne feels depressed about writing plays for adults. He moves his wife and young son "Billy" Christopher Robin to the countryside, where Billy's childhood games inspire his most famous work. There is just one problem: Billy isn't going to be a boy forever, while the world expects him to be.

Not to be confused with the Disney film Christopher Robin, which released the following year and is a Live-Action Adaptation of Winnie the Pooh.

Tropes for this film include

  • Affectionate Nickname: Christopher Robin's nickname in the family is "Billy" and his father is called Blue. His nanny Olive is called "Nou".
  • Armor-Piercing Response: After Olive tells Blue that Billy needs someone who cares about him, Daphne says she does care about him since she gave birth for him. Olive replies that a cow can give birth as well.
  • Artistic License History:
    • As he detailed in his memoirs, Christopher Robin and his father agreed that, despite their pacifist tendencies, that the Nazis had to be stopped. In the film, A.A. Milne is horrified that his son wanted to go to war to spite him and his celebrity childhood.
    • Daphne Milne wasn't the absentee mother who left it to the nanny to give her son the bulk of the affection growing up, that the film portrays her as. In his memoirs, Christopher Robin explained he was far closer to her than his father during his childhood and she actually helped create the Winnie the Pooh stories and characters by recounting the nursery playtime adventures she had with him to his father.
    • C.R. in real life never resented the books, so much as he resented everyone seeing him as a perpetually immortal, innocent child. In fact, he donated the toys to the New York Public Library so that they could make other children happy, and raised awareness to save the woods that inspired the Hundred Acre Woods. He also didn't sever ties with his mother until later in life, when he insisted on marrying his cousin Leslie against hers and A.A. Milne's wishes.
    • The poem "Vespers" wasn't published without A.A's consent like the film proposes it was, in real life he explicitly gave permission and encouragement for his wife to sell the poem.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: After a disastrous party where Milne's PTSD comes to the forefront, he and his wife make passionate love. Smash Cut to nine months later, when she's giving birth to their son.
  • Contractual Purity: Invoked and downplayed; nanny Olive expresses worry that her Billy won't be allowed to be a normal boy with all the fanmail he receives, as well as the numerous radio and phone interviews that he has to do as "Christopher Robin". In the film, part of the reason Billy goes to enlist is to get away from his childhood image, albeit in a more socially acceptable form.
  • Disney Death: Billy is M.I.A. in combat and presumed dead. His parents and Olive mourn him. Then he shows up at the country house, traumatized but more willing to reconcile with his parents.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Billy survives World War II and reconciles with his parents, and though he's still somewhat resentful of the childhood image of Christopher Robin that people have created, he's at least happy that the Winnie the Pooh stories have made people happy as he relates the story to his father about his fellow soldiers who sang Winnie the Pooh song as some kind of Survival Mantra in the battlefield.
  • Forgiveness: Olive quits angrily when Daphne fights about her having a beau, but she greets Blue cordially when he comes to inform her that the boy she helped raise is missing in action. When she starts sobbing on realizing why he came, she apologizes for mourning a child that wasn't even her.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: Billy has some interesting remarks on how his parents are always going on holidays and never spending time with him.
  • Hope Bringer: A.A. Milne says to Billy that people see him as this, because of the joy his adventures with Pooh and the others bring.
  • I Am Not Spock: Invoked and explored; Billy becomes a child celebrity because of the Christopher Robin books. He goes along with it at first because he's a kid, and it makes his parents happy. In time, however, he gets annoyed with no one realizes he's a growing boy who will become a man and doesn't want to be associated with his father's writing.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Christopher is bullied because of his association with the Winnie The Pooh character, just like in real life.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Billy is determined to prove who he is, goes to fight in war, and returns gravely changed from his experience.
  • Mama Bear: Olive is much more protective when journalists try to spy on Billy during playtime than Daphne is. When the press calls Daphne, she agrees immediately to have the bear photographed.
  • Muse Abuse: Blue starts realizing he's done this by transcribing his son's playtime into a story both for the money and because Daphne was asking him to write a story or he'd become unbearable. As Billy angrily tells him, he was just playing, not asking to become a celebrity.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Blue and Daphne have a series of them about the consequences of the Pooh books getting published; first when Olive quits after a nasty fight with Daphne, then when Billy gets bullied at school and decides to enlist in the army. By the end of it, Blue is Tantrum Throwing in Billy's bedroom while Daphne is sobbing angrily.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Billy telling his parents about Olive's beau in a fit of jealousy causes her to leave, which means no one is protecting him from the pitfalls of being a child celebrity.
  • Parents as People: Blue and Daphne fit this to a tee. They love each other, and it's obvious they love their son, but Blue is coping with PTSD and Daphne is better at being a socialite than being a mother, having implied to suffer post-partum depression. She also says that she would have preferred a girl because girls don't go to war. Billy is more devastated when Olive leaves to visit her sick mother than when Daphne runs away to London because his parents aren't around much anyway.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: After he receives an honorable discharge, Blue attends a party with his wife. When asked if he was writing at the front, Blue sarcastically says of course he did; he wrote a farce, and drank wine while the war was going on. The other man is so delighted he announces to the party that Milne wrote a farce to make them laugh.
  • Staircase Tumble: "Nobody cares, nobody cares, Christopher Robin, we'll throw down the stairs!"
  • There Are No Therapists: Milne is clearly suffering shellshock, but his friends expect him to write a farce and make people laugh, and his wife doesn't know how to help him other than offer comfort.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Olive took Owl's door and the Vespers nameplate after she quit because she was told that the family wouldn't mind.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Billy never wants to become Christopher Robin; as his fame grows, the gifts and letters never get to his head. He gets annoyed at adults who don't realize that "Nanny" is real and that he's just a kid.