Many of you will have read articles particularly fairly recently about the real life bear who inspired A. A. Milne’s classic stories about Winnie-the-Pooh. A recently published picture book sparked some of these.
I was so delighted to pick up the DVD of the movie ‘A Bear Named Winnie’ at the local Km*** last Friday for the princely sum of $4.
There is so much to like about this lovely film – with character roles played by Stephen Fry, David Suchet and Michael Fassbender – which tells the story of how a young Canadian, Lt Harry Colebourn, of the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, rescues a black bear cub. The endearing animal immediately bonds with him and despite the sometimes chaos that can be caused by such a creature in an army camp, manages to smuggle Winnie (Winnipeg) to England when he is mobilized to the front.
This is a World War 1 story with a real difference enabling viewers to glimpse the work of the veterinary corps, our Canadian compadres and the amazing friendship between human and animal.
Harry realises he cannot take Winnie to the front in France so she is placed in the London Zoo for the duration of the war under the care of a very crusty (but actually marshmallow) head keeper played by Stephen Fry.
When Harry returns from active service traumatised and withdrawn it is Winnie who rescues him in turn. After his recovery he has every intention of taking Winnie back to Canada but when he realises just how loved she is by children and adults alike who visit the zoo, he leaves her in their care where she lived happily until 1934.
In 1926 when A. A. Milne and his small son visited the zoo and became entranced by Winnie’s charm and her gentle playful nature was afterwards immortalised for endless generations of readers.
With a rating of PG this would be a worthy addition to your literary (and historical) film collection – get to that store now!