Film Friday: Goodbye Christopher Robin

Writer AA Milne returns from the first world war a shattered man, fearful of loud noises and the sudden shock of dazzling lights. So he decides to leave London with his wife Daphne and set up home in the countryside, and there they have their son, Christopher Robin, or, as they call him, Billy Moon. However Daphne does not cope well with weakness and crying and they employ a nanny to bring up their son. When Daphne returns to London and the nanny takes a few days off Milne and his son suddenly find they have time alone together.

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Milne has been struggling to write his next book, and it is during these days playing with his son and his toys, that they concoct the tales of Winnie the Pooh. He then invites his friend and illustrator over to begin to develop ideas into book form.

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This is a film that made me think about being a father, and what it means to try and communicate more, to talk and listen, to show an interest, to express and share more. To appreciate more. Milne is so damaged by his experience in the war, and his wife Daphne so reluctant to show weakness, that they live their lives at a distance from their son Billy Moon. The relationship is fractured. At one point in the film, when he is older, Billy tells his father, ‘I just wanted you.’

The writers of the Bible frequently describe God as a father, but not just any old father, a good father who cares deeply for us. A current worship song refers to this with the chorus line – ‘You’re a good, good father – it’s who you are.’ It can be a challenge at times to see God in this way, life bashes us about, and our relationships with others (people made in the mage of God) can affect how we see our relationship with our heavenly father. We want to know that we matter, that he is interested, that he values us. That he knows us and loves us. Psalm 103 tells us – ‘The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. He is like a good father to his children, tender and compassionate…’ The writer John, in his first letter tells us ‘See how much God loves us! His love is so great that he calls us his children. And indeed we are. I’m fairly sure that we all of us need to glimpse from time to time the living breathing, portrait of the good father who is near us, and understands us, and is intensely interested in us.

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