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A Second Look: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
In 1977, John Lounsbery and Wolfgang Reitherman released The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, based on Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne. Starring Sterling Holloway, John Fiedler, Junius Matthews, Paul Winchell, Howard Morris, Bruce Reitherman, Jon Walmsley, Timothy Turner, Ralph Wright, Hal Smith, Clint Howard, Dori Whitaker, Barbara Luddy, and Sebastian Cabot, the film had an unknown box office gross. Nominated for the Satellite Award for Best Youth DVD, the film was placed on the American Film Institute’s list of Top 10 Animated Films.
When Winnie the Pooh is in desperate need for some honey, he tries stealing some from a nearby honey tree, but when that proves disastrous, he eats some of Rabbit’s. However, he eats too much and gets stuck in Rabbit’s front door, causing him to stay there until he loses enough weight to get unstuck.
Then, following a day of heavy wind, there’s a large storm causing some homes to float away. It’s also the night Pooh meets Tigger, who tells him of the Heffalumps and Woozles.
Finally, Rabbit starts growing increasingly tired of Tigger and his bouncing, causing him to take action. Rabbit, Pooh and Piglet take Tigger in to the forest with the plans of losing him. The tables get turned though, as Rabbit winds up as the one who gets lost. Tigger also gets stuck up a tree
While it’s essentially a package film put together in the late 1970s, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is quite good and a bit different as far as package films go with it being more of a compilation than anything. It’s a smooth and well done continuation of stories found in a larger world and there’s great continuity throughout the stories as well. For instance, in the first story, Pooh is shown as having an obsession with honey that’s so great, he makes himself into a black raincloud and risks multiple bee stings and a great fall just to get it. His obsession is only furthered following his meeting with Tigger where he’s seen guarding his precious honey from the Heffalumps and Woozles. There’s also Rabbit and his dedication to his garden as well as efficiency. It’s seen in the second story where he gets worried when Pooh and Piglet are coming up fast as they’ll create a deep trench, but then gets excited because it’s making his work more efficient. This dedication comes up again when Tigger destroys his garden, which is the catalyst for Rabbit wanting to get rid of his bouncing.
As a whole, the characters are quite good. They’re not particularly deep or compelling in their characterization, but they don’t really need to be as they’re all personalities thought up by a young boy. Pooh, for instance, is incredibly dim and unceasingly hungry for honey, but is Christopher Robin’s most loyal friend and has his moments of clarity. Owl thinks himself as the most intelligent of all the characters and while he may be, he’s only smart enough to shine over everyone else and Christopher Robin. There’s also Tigger who’s the most hyperactive and fun-loving of all the characters, who doesn’t quite get that his bouncing can be disruptive and becomes pretty upset when he can’t have his fun. They’re all from the mind of a child, who understandably thinks of pretty one dimensional personalities as he’s not realistically going to come up with someone that has multiple sides to their character and personality to make it so they’re good but flawed.
Another notable aspect to this film is how there’s practically no fourth wall. Not only does the narrator exist outside of action going on in the film, like him stating that Owl rambled on for about 20 more pages, but he also gets involved with them, such as him getting into a conversation with Pooh about him being in the next chapter. Further, the narrator also helps get Tigger out of the tree by turning the book on its side and making it so that he can slide down the words. Gopher also gets in on the action when Pooh is pushed out of Rabbit’s front door, yelling that he’s sailing “clean out of the book” and yelling for the narrator to turn the page.
Fascinatingly, while the film isn’t very deep for the most part, it does get that way near the end with Christopher Robin telling Pooh that he’s growing up and can’t just do nothing anymore. It becomes a conversation about what makes memories and friendship that works wonderfully well as it doesn’t completely detract from Pooh’s character.
The film isn’t a grand adventure with a great deal of action and fantastic set pieces, but it doesn’t really have to be. It simply shows a slice of life in the Hundred Acre Wood.
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