Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) - Childhood Favorite

The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh: I Think I'll Go See Christopher Robin Today... Again

Friendship Edition Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
"The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" (1977).
Films like Walt Disney Productions' "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" (1977) almost never turn up on "Best film" lists unless it is some sort of government historical project. However, you will be hard-pressed to find a film as revered and secretly cherished by as many people like this one. You may out-grow it, you may deride it, but at one time in your life, this or a film like it was the center of your world.

Pooh with friends Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Pooh and friends.
It's difficult to believe now, but back when the world was young - you know, pre-Pixar - 's classic was not a household name. Walt Disney himself started production on an adaptation, but he felt the public didn't know enough about the story for it to slot in as a feature after "The Jungle Book."

THe Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977

Instead, to introduce the characters, he turned the project into a series of shorts, which weren't bad works by themselves: the second of the three, "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," won the 1968 Academy Award for an animated short film.

Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Owl always is a favorite of the kids.
The three shorts - the other two being "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree" (1966) and "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too" (1974) - were strung together by directors Wolfgang Reitherman and Winston Hibler. Animated wraparounds were inserted featuring Pooh and Piglet between each section and a conclusion. There also are two brief live-action segments, at the beginning and the end.

Pooh with boy Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Pooh and boy.
In the first section, Winnie the Pooh is at home in Hundred Acres Wood doing exercises so that he can work up an appetite. He tears the stitching in his bottom, which he repairs, but then goes to get some honey and finds the jar empty. He goes out to a nearby honey tree to get some honey, but he falls off a branch into a gorse bush.

THe Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977

Pooh then goes to Christopher Robin's house, where Eeyore, Owl, Kanga, and Roo are visiting. Robin gives him a balloon to help him. Pooh goes back and floats up to the honey, but after eating some, one of the bees stings his bottom. He gets stuck in the tree, but then the bees send him off into the air, and he falls into the hands of Christopher Robin.

Gopher reading Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
"I'm not in the book?"
Pooh then goes to Rabbit's house, and when Rabbit invites him to stay for lunch, Pooh eats all his honey. He can't get out of the house because of all the honey he ate, so Rabbit gets Christopher Robin to help. Eventually, they just have to wait for Pooh to lose the weight so that he can get unstuck. It takes many days, but finally, Christopher Robin, Kanga, Eeyore, Owl, Roo Rabbit, and Gopher are able to dislodge Pooh, only to wind up stuck in the honey tree again.

Tigger on Pooh Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Tigger on Pooh.
In the second segment, Gopher tells Pooh that it is "Winds-day" because the east and west winds have traded places. Pooh goes to see Piglet, who is blown into the wind, and Pooh grabs him, but they are blown over Kanga, Roo, Eeyore, Rabbit, and Owl. Owl's house is knocked down, so Eeyore decides to find him a new home. Tigger then comes to visit Pooh and tells him that there are Heffalumps and Woozles in the forest that steal honey, which frightens Pooh.

Tigger and mirror Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Tigger looking in the mirror - some fancy animation.
A storm floods the forest, carrying Piglet away, and Pooh, guarding his honey, gets trapped in a honey pot and floats away. Everybody else goes to Christopher Robin's house, which is above the water, and Christopher Robin arranges a rescue of Piglet from the chair he is riding. Pooh is assumed to have rescued Piglet and becomes a hero. Eeyore then says that he found a new home for Owl, but it turns out to be Piglet's house. Piglet gives his house to Owl and moves in with Pooh.

Tigger on Rabbit Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Tigger with rabbit.
In the third section, Tigger has been annoying everyone by bouncing on them, so Pooh, Rabbit, and Piglet take him for a walk and leave him alone and lost in the forest. The three then leave, but themselves get lost and keep running into the same sandpit. Rabbit goes off alone, but Pooh and Piglet run into Tigger. Pooh tells Tigger that Rabbit is lost in the forest, and Tigger goes to look for him and finds him, bringing him home.

Roo closeup Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Winter comes, and Tigger looks after Roo and they run into Rabbit skating on the ice. Tigger goes skating and collides with Rabbit, sending him into a snowbank and Rabbit flying into his house. Tigger gives up ice skating. Later, Tigger jumps to the top of a tall tree and is scared to come down. Roo makes things worse by using Tigger's tail as a swing. Pooh and Piglet happen along and come to the rescue, followed by Christopher Robin, Rabbit, and Kanga.

Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Pooh bear!
Tigger is still too scared to come down, but when the others tell him they will have to leave him there, Tigger promises never to jump on anyone ever again if they will just let him down. Tigger then asks the narrator to narrate him down to the ground, and the narrator tilts the book to shake him down, which is quite funny if you are not a purist.

Pooh watching Tigger Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Tigger and Pooh.
Tigger starts bouncing in joy but then stops because of the vow he made. He gets depressed and walks away, and everyone else but Rabbit feels sorry for him. The others remind Rabbit of the good things that came from Tigger bouncing, and Rabbit also starts to feel sorry for him. He goes to Tigger and tells him he can bounce again. Tigger is so happy he starts bouncing and gets the others to bounce, too.

Rabbit with tea Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
This will pick me up.
The final story, "A Day for Eeyore," was added for the 20th Anniversary edition. It has Pooh inventing a new game, "Pooh Sticks." While playing the game, they see Eeyore floating in the river. Eeyore says that Tigger bounced him in, but Tigger denies it. It's Eeyore's birthday, so they give him presents. Pooh, though, eats the honey he was going to give him beforehand. They all then play Pooh Sticks, but Tigger decides he doesn't like it.

Gathering Carrots Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Can't have enough carrots!
The characters are all voiced by the same people for each segment, despite the fact they were filmed at widely separated times. Sterling Holloway is Pooh, Paul Winchell is Tigger, Junius Matthews is Rabbit, Dori Whitaker is Roo, John Fiedler is Piglet, Timothy Turner voices Christopher Robin, Barbara Luddy is Kanga, and Sebastian Cabot narrates. A new character, Gopher, is voiced by Howard Morris.

Looking in the mirror Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Winnie also looking in the mirror.
While released at a low point in the studio's fortunes, this film is a classic. It is the perfect family film, since there is absolutely nothing in it that could make anyone uncomfortable, and you can all talk about it afterward - "What would you have done?" Did Piglet do the right thing?" - in an enjoyable way. With practically no violence and no mean characters, the story is told through a "book" that you see as the stories proceed. The illustrations in the book come to life, which is a neat effect and makes the whole thing very accessible for children (and quite trying for many adults). The pacing is very slow, suitable for children.

Winnie the Pooh with fan Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Pooh with fans.
Pooh, let's be honest, is not too bright. However, he more than makes up for that by being cute, adorable and, best of all, funny. If you had to describe him, the words "teddy bear" spring to mind. The animation is decent, if not up to previous feature film standards, and every song is enjoyable. Again, if you were looking for one word, it would be "calming" or perhaps "pleasant." We learn a few things about the characters that we didn't from the books, but more importantly, we get to spend time with our good friends. Everything is related in the way that children would understand and find perfectly logically, even if we just scratch our heads and wonder if the author was smoking dope.

Tigger with fan Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
And Tigger too!
Purists - and there are always those looking for something to cry about - will decry the narrator's intervention now and then, along with the addition of a new hilarious character (who runs around amusingly and pointedly saying "I'm not in the book, you know!") who seems vaguely modeled on an earlier Disney character, the beaver, in "Lady and the Tramp." The changes are minimal, however, and unless you have studied the books intently, you will never know the difference.

Pooh with honey Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Pooh loves his honey.
Winnie the Pooh, of course, became big business largely because of the impact of this film. It is almost as big as the Princesses and the "Cars" merchandising, and that, my friend, is quite an achievement.

Winnie the Pooh Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
Time for bed!
This is a gentle story for toddlers. By the age of ten, they will have long outgrown the magic that is "Winnie the Pooh" (but perhaps reacquire it when they get much older).  However, catch them at the right age, and this film will be on 24/7 as they watch the adventures of Pooh, Christopher Robin, and Tigger, too.

Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977
The Pooh's Blu-ray edition came out on August 27, 2013.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, is being released on Blu-ray on 27th August 2013. It will include the following bonus material:
  •     NEW! Disney Intermission – Press “pause” during the movie and find out what happens! The narrator invites younger viewers to play along with the Hundred Acre Wood friends in a variety of engaging activities. 
  •     NEW! Pooh Play-Along – In this bonus feature, the narrator invites viewers to play along with Pooh and his friends. 
  •     NEW! 5 “Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” Shorts: “If I Wasn’t So Small,” “Piglet’s Drawings,” “The Expedition,” “Geniuses” & “The Honey Song” 
  •     LEGACY “A Day for Eeyore” – Classic Animated Short 
  •     LEGACY “The Story Behind the Masterpiece” – Making of Featurette 
  •     LEGACY “The Winnie the Pooh Theme Song” – Performed by Carly Simon
THe Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh 1977


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