Everyone knows of Christopher Robin and his best friend Winnie The Pooh, but what few would realize is that, for the close family of British author AA Milne, these characters and their adventures are tinged with sadness.
Talking to Deadline’s Diana Lodderhose at our inaugural The Contenders London event Friday, the film’s producer, Damian Jones, revealed that he, too, was unaware of the real story until he’d read the moving script by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Simon Vaughn. “I was astonished to discover after reading the screenplay that, frankly, Christopher Robin was real,” confessed Jones. “And I think we’ve enjoyed the books but never computed that, actually, Christopher Robin was inspired by AA Milne’s own son. And then I discovered that the joy that the book brought, at the same time, brought sadness to the boy and the family. That was all new to me, and I thought that if I didn’t know that story, others would discover it for themselves and find it equally interesting.”
Jones went on to explain the roots of the Winnie The Pooh stories, which sprang, surprisingly, from the misery caused by the Great War. “Milne came back, as is documented, from World War One suffering from PTSD,” he said, “and, indeed, as the film depicts, got more and more frustrated with both himself and the life he’d created for himself.”
Continued Jones: “He was a very successful West End playwright at the time, and he was ready to turn his back on that success to find more meaning in his work and his life. So he moves to [the countryside], and that’s where – as chance would have it – he’s finally left alone with his son, and that’s the start of their bonding, which then inspired the stories.
“The success of those stories, for Christopher, ruined that special moment. But for the rest of the world, they brought joy at a time when people felt like there was no hope.”