Saturday, September 10, 2011

Disney's The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

If you were to ask me what my favorite Disney character was when I was only three I would start singing “Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, Winnie, Winnie, the Pooh, Pooh, Pooh” That was all the words I knew from the song, but my family could tell you I was really passionate about singing that song. Winnie the Pooh is such an icon for small children and for a few adults like me, who will cherish the silly ole bear and his friends forever. Most of the credit for Winnie the Pooh’s popularity should be given to Walt Disney, though without the imagination of author A.A. Milne I could not say this. A.A. Milne’s Pooh series became the most beloved British Children Stories but had not made its mark within the U.S. Thankfully, these books made it onto the bookshelf of Walt’s daughters and were read to the girls by their mother for a bedtime story. Hearing the delight of his children, Disney knew he had to bring these stories to his animation studio. Originally it was planned to make a full-length musical animation of Winnie the Pooh, but instead Disney decided to make them into shorts. His reasoning for this was he wanted American audiences to become familiar with all the characters, feel an emotional tie to them.

The first of the series was Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966) then Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1966) which unfortunately was the last picture that Walt had a hand in before he died. Following this film came Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too. Stringing these films together then brought us the 22nd full-length animated film to be released in 1977, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Later in 1983 a final featurette based on the original books was added, Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore. Maybe Walt was a fortune- teller because his choice to make shorts and then string them together later was financially and creatively smart. Not only did making shorts save the studio money, but they made and is still making an absolute killing with merchandise. Pooh’s everywhere! (Stop giggling).

Creatively the animators made audiences feel that they were actually reading a story book, including the actual words and chapter titles from Milne’s stories. You can even see some of Milne’s illustrators E.H. Shepard’s style work while pages are being turned (the black and white bumble bees are one example). A magical moment for children is to see a still scene and then magically the characters come to life and take you to the Hundred Acre Woods. A fun little thing to look out for at the beginning of the movie is a few toy soldiers and a sailor in a boat with a cannon. These are all from the live action Disney movie, Babes in Toyland. We didn't read about this, we watched the movie and noticed it. Perhaps nobody but us nerds has noticed it!

What I find great about the whole stories of Pooh is how they were created by Milne. His inspiration came to him from his own son Christopher Robin and his son’s teddy bear. Originally, the bears name was Edward, but a trip to the London Zoo would change everything. At the zoo, Christopher Robin was awe struck by a Canadian black bear by the name of Winnie ( who was previously owned by a Lieutenant during WW1 and dubbed a mascot). Pooh came from a swan by that name. Milne though further explains his reason why Winnie the Pooh is sometimes just known as Pooh.

"But his arms were so stiff ... they stayed up straight in the air for more than a week, and whenever a fly came and settled on his nose he had to blow it off. And I think — but I am not sure — that that is why he is always called Pooh." Disney included this small little tid bit during the title song of Winnie the Pooh. But instead of a fly he uses a butterfly. So Edward became Winnie the Pooh and to entertain his young son Milne made up adventures that Pooh and some of Christopher Robin’s other stuff animals went on, treating them like they were real. This included Piglet, Eeoyre,Tigger, Kanga and Roo (Rabbit and Owl were not a part of the collection but within the books).

You may be asking, “Hey, what about Gopher?” Gopher was added by Disney, as he wanted to add an American character to the group so Americans could feel some sort of connection. Gopher was also to add some comedy. Slapstick was definitely used throughout the film. I almost felt like Gopher was taking on an Abbot and Costello role with Owl when it was being decided if Gopher was going to be hired to dig Winnie the Pooh out of Rabbits hole. Gopher’s best line though is “I’m not in the book”. This was very clever, not only was it used for explaining that he wasn’t in the phone book but he wasn’t in Milne’s book.A.A. Milne wrote four volumes about this famous bear including, Winnie-the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six.

Now back to the Disney version, I don't know if you're getting tired of hearing this guys voice, but Disney could not get enough of him. Sterling Holloway lends his voice to Winnie the Pooh, his best loved role by audiences. Another familiar voice is Sebastian Cabot, (who played Bageera in the Jungle Book) narrates these wonderful tales. Paul Winchell had wonderful time bouncing around as Tigger and he even adlibbed Tigger's most famous line, " TTFN -Ta Ta For Now". Wolfgang Reitherman (director) didn't have to look very far for Eeyore's voice, he picked one of his own storymen, Ralph Wright, who had an extremely deep voice.

Critics loved The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh when it came out in 1977. Leonard Maltin called the shorts, "gems" and loved the storybook feel to the whole movie. There are others who claimed that thanks to Disney's meddling, the original books' integrity was destroyed. I find this to be a load of heffalump dung due to the fact that the shorts follow the stories from the book pretty well. Sure there are a few changes, but it's not like Disney changed the character into a bloodthirsty killer or something. In the awards category, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day won an Academy Award for Best Short, making it the only Winnie the Pooh film to win an academy award. If you can't get enough of Pooh, don't worry, there are a bunch of different shorts, movies, and TV shows that Pooh stars in. You probably remember the first one I just linked to, but how about this show?


  1. since the Winnie the pooh 2011 failed, and disney has since killed the characters, and their webpage at disney , it seems that they killed off all the charers, plus you missed welcome to pooh corner, and book of pooh , which also has been killed by the current disney people, besides their small guest stars on xbox 360, which don't count, since those came out before disney killed off winnie the pooh , which seems to be the truth.

  2. gopher also killed off by Disney from the Winnie the pooh 2011 movie, which is a American book character, which is why Disney removed it , becomes with connects Winnie the pooh with America , since it was made for the American Winnie the pooh, which no longer is supported by Disney, after that failed movie came out because it aired in theaters at the same time as really popular Harry the Potter movie came out, they for some reason made winnie the pooh play at the same time, hint hint disney did this just to kill it off in making anything new with book of pooh and never to be seen on tv again welecome to pooh corner show.

  3. at least I don't think welecome to pooh corner will be seen on tv again in our life time, which is aad, since for one thing I never got to see all the 120 eps, they say they made of it, which includes dumbo show which also used to air on tv, which was great, I for one don't care for current disney, and miss mickey mouse cartoons , and classic cartoon by old disney , which I no aired on current disney at all, for example their are no little kids at our home, so no one watches the baby shows that current disney puts out these days.

  4. Thank you my favorite cousin for covering my dear POOH.