September 22nd 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Water, water everywhere, but not for the farmers

EDITORIAL Power companies in clover after closures

CANBERRA OBSERVED Liberals in need of an internal peacemaker

ENERGY Solar, wind dependence will add $1300 to power bills, engineers, scientists warn

LIFE ISSUES Queensland life march busts media stereotypes

ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS Unmask activists disguised as nature lovers

FOREIGN AFFAIRS China takes up challenge to imitate and overtake America

CHINA AND AUSTRALIA Paul Monk thunders at kowtowing former pollies

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Hawaii: Pearl of the Pacific

BOOK EXCERPT From Patrick J. Byrne's book, Transgender: One Shade of Grey

FREE SPEECH University of Western Australia blinks again

LIFE ISSUES Queensland law will open floodgates to sex-selective abortion

HUMOUR

MUSIC Pop and singing: A certain antagonism

CINEMA Christopher Robin: The best something comes from nothing

BOOK REVIEW A so-called industry with only a dark side

BOOK REVIEW Population see-saw changes direction

LETTERS

POETRY

EUTHANASIA No concoction can kill peacefully

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CINEMA
Christopher Robin: The best something comes from nothing


by Symeon J. Thompson

News Weekly, September 22, 2018

At first glance, the tales of Winnie the Pooh seem rather childish when viewed with grown-up eyes. But something about them tends to inspire a more lasting look, and with this look the mind starts to wander off, rambling its way through the paths of memory as feeling stirs thought and thought stirs feeling.

This rambling of the mind is not, however, an aimless drifting, but something meditative and transformative. Instead of being a diversion from the challenges of life, it is a renewal of life, a reminding that what matters to the child also matters to the adult – but in such a way that the adult does not become a child.

It is this that drives Disney’s Christopher Robin, a film that succeeds, as John Ehrett remarks in The American Conservative, by exhorting adults to be more fully adult, rather than by encouraging them to be more childish.

Christopher Robin is not about A.A. Milne’s son, but about the fictional Christopher Robin (Orton O’Brien as the boy and Ewan McGregor as the man). This Christopher Robin leaves his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood to go to boarding school, to grow up, to fall in love, to go to war, to return and to provide for his family.

Now he is a man, harried and overworked, unable to spend time with his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) or daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). Christopher is an efficiency expert at Winslow luggage, striving to cut costs and grow profits without letting go of staff. His anxiety and desperation to save people’s jobs – including his own – in the face of the indifference of his boss, Giles Winslow Jr (Mark Gatiss), leads him to neglect his family.

Meanwhile, in the Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings) has lost his friends. And so, the bear of little brain, not knowing what else to do, decides to find the one person who could always save them: Christopher Robin. He crawls through Christopher’s door in the tree and finds himself in London, in the very park that Christopher has escaped to to find a solution to his problem.

Thus begins a grand adventure, one that beautifully captures the gentle and wistful spirit of Milne’s work, as Christopher travels back to his family cottage – the cottage Evelyn and Madeline have gone to for the weekend alone – to help his friends, all the while working on his pitch for the Big Meeting.

Christopher returns to his past and in the process is reminded of why he does what he does. The only reason he works so hard is for the wellbeing of his family, but in the process of providing for them materially he is failing to provide for them spiritually.

The easy – and flawed – solution would be for Christopher to give up on his job and shift to something that would give him more time. But Christopher is a good man and he knows that such a solution would be no solution at all. Apart from the suffering it would bring to him and his family, it would also bring suffering to his loyal and hard-working staff. Christopher wants to serve the common good but, as he burns out, he can no longer see what it is.

Thanks to his time with his friends and family, he can look at things afresh, and he comes up with a solution. Winslow luggage could increase its profits if it made luggage for the ordinary working family, and the ordinary working family would have a reason for luggage if they were able to take holidays. Since Winslow employs so many people, if it got the ball rolling, then it would spread through society. In so doing, it could increase the wellbeing of its workers and stimulate the economy. The relevance of this idea is not limited to the economy. Anything will break if too much pressure is applied. Rest and recreation is as necessary for the mind as for the body.

Leisure properly understood, as philosopher Josef Pieper put it in his rightly acclaimed book, is the basis of culture. It is leisure that makes life meaningful, that makes work meaningful. The child appreciates leisure unconsciously – for play is the natural state of being for a child. An adult, on the other hand, can appreciate it consciously.

An adult knows that life is not so much about getting what you want, but about doing what you need to do; and that discerning what you need to do requires time and space for rest and reflection. The soul needs to play for the person to become fully alive.

Symeon J. Thompson is a member of the Film Critics’ Circle of Australia (FCCA).




























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