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#161 mrmando

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 12:04 PM

I didn't miss the comment, I just don't agree with it. A mountain can appear to be a molehill when one looks through the wrong lenses.

P.S. The only silly thing I've done is complain about the red T-shirt. I'm pretty darn serious about the rest of this.

Edited by mrmando, 06 September 2011 - 12:15 PM.


#162 SDG

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 12:26 PM

I didn't miss the comment, I just don't agree with it.

If you didn't miss it, then perhaps you misunderstood it. Or else your cart-before-the-horse comment about pulling out big guns in response to my overdeveloped defense makes no sense that I can see.

My defense has been measured and open to give and take. I didn't defend too stridently or passionately. I've acknowledged countervailing points. I haven't gone scorched earth on criticism of the film. My defense was "overdeveloped" in the sense that it was overly refined and pedantically articulated in response to somewhat trivial criticisms. Nothing in my measured defense invited a scorched earth response.

Scorched earth is a bad style of argument that illuminates nothing. If you can't see anything in the film but "stupid, desperate, cowardly characters ... chaos ... lumpen literalism," etc., all I can say is, "I'm sorry you missed the movie."

I didn't miss the comment, I just don't agree with it. A mountain can appear to be a molehill when one looks through the wrong lenses.

If you think a post-credit tag is a mountain, which of us has the wrong lens is a question I am willing to leave as an exercise to the reader.

Edited by SDG, 06 September 2011 - 12:33 PM.


#163 mrmando

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 12:53 PM

I think we've reached the point of meta-discussion where Peter begins to get bored. The films have numerous charming attributes; that much I do not dispute. I reject the charge that I "can't see anything but...." The question is whether those charming attributes are sufficient to induce me to forgive the films' rank faults. Unlike you and Jeffrey, I grew up with a strong attachment to the books, unpolluted by any parallel attachment to the films. So my lenses, whatever their other attributes may be, are not clouded by decades' worth of warm Disney-fuzzies. I did see Many Adventures once as a preteen, and even then I didn't care for its Americanized, flattened-out, dumbed-down approach.

The comment you're calling "scorched earth" is merely a summation of points I've made earlier in the thread. There's no new information in it. You didn't call those statements "scorched earth" the first time I made them, so why do they become "scorched earth" upon reiteration?

#164 SDG

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 01:01 PM

The comment you're calling "scorched earth" is merely a summation of points I've made earlier in the thread. There's no new information in it. You didn't call those statements "scorched earth" the first time I made them, so why do they become "scorched earth" upon reiteration?

"Scorched earth" is a paraphrase for what I wrote in response to that post: "I am chagrined that you are driven to such ugly adjectives to describe such a gentle and charming film." Whether or not there was new information, it was expressed with greater violence and a sweeping set of antitheses ("stupid, desperate, cowardly characters" vs."humble yet capable characters", "imagination" vs. "lumpen literalism." etc.) that seemed to leave little room for the "charming attributes" that have now been acknowledged. (Such acknowledgments are helpful in avoiding the scorched earth effect.)

Edited by SDG, 06 September 2011 - 01:08 PM.


#165 mrmando

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 01:09 PM

Hypothetical question: if my points about characterization, order v. chaos, imagination v. literalism, and showing v. telling were stated as general principles, i.e., not in the context of discussing any particular film, would you agree with them?

#166 SDG

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 01:23 PM

Hypothetical question: if my points about characterization, order v. chaos, imagination v. literalism, and showing v. telling were stated as general principles, i.e., not in the context of discussing any particular film, would you agree with them?

All else being equal, generally speaking, yes. (Speaking in the abstract, I wouldn't want to imply that a story with stupid, desperate, cowardly characters is necessarily inferior to one with humble but capable characters, or that replacing stupid, desperate, cowardly characters with humble but capable characters would always be an improvement in a story.)

In fact, though, your sweeping contrasts were issued in the context of what you suggested I had framed as a "matter of taste."

#167 mrmando

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 01:34 PM

As Joel & Ethan Coen well understand, it's possible to make critically acclaimed films wherein most of the characters are stupid, cowardly and desperate...

I'll develop a thought or two here in a moment.

#168 mrmando

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 01:53 PM

Well, nobody else seems interested in this ... but here goes.

By way of apology: I certainly didn't mean to suggest that the characters in the film are wholly stupid, cowardly, and desperate, nor that the world they inhabit is entirely chaotic or literalistic, just that they possess these qualities in greater measure than the characters and the world depicted in the books. By and large, I don't see that these changes are dramatically necessary, and I certainly don't think that they improve the stories. Viewed in this light, the films, whatever their positive qualities might be, are inferior to the books, and IMHO what they add in terms of songs and fanciful animation does not make up for what they take away. I don't consider the films co-equal to the books in any sense.

Of course, since this is a film thread, there's always the notion that the films deserve to be evaluated as films, apart from any consideration of how well they work or don't work as adaptations of the books. But nobody in this thread has done that, or even professed to be doing it, and if I read Jeffrey correctly, he doesn't think he'd even be able to do it if he tried.

#169 Overstreet

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 02:07 PM

I think Milne's literary legacy is a far greater thing than that of Disney's Pooh films. No argument there. The books are the greater treasure.

But the movies, for all of their variations from (or, if you prefer "betrayals of") the books, have qualities that I find more than endearing... I find them to be rare and even exemplary in the ghastly realm of Movies for Kids. And I do think, with their whimsy and wordplay and celebration of imagination, that they do ultimately affirm many of the virtues of Milne's books.

I remember how heartbroken and horrified I was when I saw The Tale of Despereaux on the big screen. I imagine that's not a far cry from how you feel about the Disney Pooh films, Martin. But then, I dislike Despereaux because it fills that perfect story with things that I, at my most cynical, would expect a contemporary filmmaker to add. (And it adds some truly bizarre, incongruous elements at that.)

This has been an interesting debate. No amount of criticism is going to take away the associations I have with the Disney films since they were, quite literally, the wallpaper of my childhood. But I can respect your passionate defense of the source material, even if I am grateful for the films.

#170 mrmando

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 02:10 PM

Unless A.A. introduces some obvious fictionalization into that house, or into the characterization of himself or C.R.-outside-the-Hundred-Acre-Wood, it seems to me gratuitous to carve out hypothetical fictional space around A.A.'s outside-the-Hundred-Acre-Wood narration, whereby C.R.-outside-the-Hundred-Acre-Wood might have a more parsimonious collection of stuffed animals than the "real C.R."

What if his collection is less parsimonious? How do we know A.A. didn't add a couple of toys to the fictional nursery?

In any case, I have no trouble identifying Eeyore, Kanga, Roo etc. in A.A.'s stories as anthropomorphized and imaginative extensions of C.R.'s real toys, whereas Rabbit and Owl are wholly imaginary animals without similar nursery-toy origins...

Is this something you infer from the text, or from the illustrations? If it's the text, which stories/passages? If it's the illustrations, whose illustrations? I'm looking at a Shepard drawing right now that depicts everyone but Tigger, and I don't see that Kanga looks any less "real" than Rabbit.

#171 SDG

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 02:26 PM

Well, nobody else seems interested in this ... but here goes.

By way of apology: I certainly didn't mean to suggest that the characters in the film are wholly stupid, cowardly, and desperate, nor that the world they inhabit is entirely chaotic or literalistic, just that they possess these qualities in greater measure than the characters and the world depicted in the books. By and large, I don't see that these changes are dramatically necessary, and I certainly don't think that they improve the stories. Viewed in this light, the films, whatever their positive qualities might be, are inferior to the books, and IMHO what they add in terms of songs and fanciful animation does not make up for what they take away. I don't consider the films co-equal to the books in any sense.

Of course, since this is a film thread, there's always the notion that the films deserve to be evaluated as films, apart from any consideration of how well they work or don't work as adaptations of the books. But nobody in this thread has done that, or even professed to be doing it, and if I read Jeffrey correctly, he doesn't think he'd even be able to do it if he tried.

I'm interested, Mando. And I appreciate it. We still disagree, obviously, but we can disagree cordially and perhaps productively here.

Unless A.A. introduces some obvious fictionalization into that house, or into the characterization of himself or C.R.-outside-the-Hundred-Acre-Wood, it seems to me gratuitous to carve out hypothetical fictional space around A.A.'s outside-the-Hundred-Acre-Wood narration, whereby C.R.-outside-the-Hundred-Acre-Wood might have a more parsimonious collection of stuffed animals than the "real C.R."

What if his collection is less parsimonious? How do we know A.A. didn't add a couple of toys to the fictional nursery?

Equally gratuitous. What would C.R. have pictured, hearing the stories? I submit that Pooh in his father's stories would have been his stuffed bear brought to life, while Rabbit would be an anthropomorphic rabbit -- not an anthropomorphic stuffed rabbit that he didn't have. And that's the reading the Disney animators have gone with.

In any case, I have no trouble identifying Eeyore, Kanga, Roo etc. in A.A.'s stories as anthropomorphized and imaginative extensions of C.R.'s real toys, whereas Rabbit and Owl are wholly imaginary animals without similar nursery-toy origins...

Is this something you infer from the text, or from the illustrations?

Isn't it simply a description of the facts? In any case, it's how I parse the diegetic blurriness of the stories, given their origins and original audience.

Edited by SDG, 07 September 2011 - 02:28 PM.


#172 mrmando

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 04:00 PM

What would C.R. have pictured, hearing the stories? I submit that Pooh in his father's stories would have been his stuffed bear brought to life, while Rabbit would be an anthropomorphic rabbit -- not an anthropomorphic stuffed rabbit that he didn't have.

Excellent point in favor of your argument, given that the real C.R. was the original audience of the stories. However, it's also a point against the argument that the Backson we see in the film has anything to do with C.R.'s imagination. If anyone knows there is no such thing as a Backson, it's Christopher Robin.

#173 SDG

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 09:02 PM

What would C.R. have pictured, hearing the stories? I submit that Pooh in his father's stories would have been his stuffed bear brought to life, while Rabbit would be an anthropomorphic rabbit -- not an anthropomorphic stuffed rabbit that he didn't have.

Excellent point in favor of your argument, given that the real C.R. was the original audience of the stories. However, it's also a point against the argument that the Backson we see in the film has anything to do with C.R.'s imagination. If anyone knows there is no such thing as a Backson, it's Christopher Robin.

1. Thanks, appreciated. 2. Nothing to add on the post-credit Backson appearance.

Edited by SDG, 07 September 2011 - 09:02 PM.


#174 Overstreet

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 09:27 PM

Even if we could find a sound logical defense of the existence of the Backson at the end of the film, I would still find it a bad idea. It wasn't funny, it was preposterously implausible (even in Pooh land), and the voice of the creature was really, really horrible.

#175 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 05:52 PM

SDG wrote:
: If you didn't miss it, then perhaps you misunderstood it. Or else your cart-before-the-horse comment about pulling out big guns in response to my overdeveloped defense makes no sense that I can see.

Since you made your mountain-molehill analogy in response to my post, perhaps I should clarify here that I thought your suggestion that YOU were the one responding in a Big way to someone else's Bigness made no sense that I could see -- hence my "Ha!" and all the rest of it.

mrmando wrote:
: I think we've reached the point of meta-discussion where Peter begins to get bored.

Perhaps. Though if I haven't participated at A&F since Monday sometime, it's because I've been taking my kids to kindergarten since Tuesday (and one of them to preschool, on Wednesday) and going to parent meetings and back-to-school barbecues in the evening, etc. Of necessity, my level of engagement here has been, and will continue to be, not all that deep. (Though I do hope to have an hour-and-a-half to myself at Starbucks during preschool tomorrow...) (And did I mention I was so tired I fell asleep on the couch at 9pm last night? I NEVER go to bed that early.)

: Excellent point in favor of your argument, given that the real C.R. was the original audience of the stories. However, it's also a point against the argument that the Backson we see in the film has anything to do with C.R.'s imagination. If anyone knows there is no such thing as a Backson, it's Christopher Robin.

Well put.

#176 SDG

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 01:35 AM

Oh dear, I hoped Mando was right and we were all weary of the navel-gazing meta-discussion. I'm surprised that what I wrote made no sense to you, Peter, but I don't think the thread needs or would benefit from further unraveling in this direction. My comments will have to speak for themselves, or not.

Edited by SDG, 09 September 2011 - 02:41 AM.


#177 Overstreet

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 05:49 PM

Hollywood Reporter: 'Winnie the Pooh': How the Disney Classic Became New Again

The idea, however, was always to return Pooh to his roots. The research trip we took to the real Hundred Acre Wood in East Sussex, England, was absolutely essential. The watercolor look of Pooh was already established, but we didn't want to just reuse old backgrounds. The result of that experience was a richer, more beautiful look than before because it was based on the real place.

We knew that just following these characters around in the forest, as lovingly rendered as it is, would become repetitive, and since we were going to have songs, it seemed to make sense to use a couple of the songs to break the reality of the moment and do something more fanciful in "The Backson Song" and Pooh's dream sequence, "Everything is Honey." Disney has had a long history of doing that, from the "Pink Elephants on Parade" sequence in Dumbo to "Heffalumps and Woozles" in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, and we wanted to add to that lineage of trippy, surreal moments in Disney history.

...

I don't feel there's any bias within the Academy concerning animated films. For the last two years, an animated film was nominated for best picture. I think the struggle for legitimacy is nearing an end.



#178 Darren H

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:31 AM

It's decided, then. This will be my daughter's first trip to a movie theater.


I still haven't taken Rory to a movie theater, but I thought of this thread last night after putting her to bed and hearing her upstairs, lying in her crib, singing, "Winnie the POOH! Winnie the POOH!" at the top of her lungs. Last week, when she and I were both home sick, we curled up on the couch together and watched the Pooh movie from the '70s. She's been obsessed ever since.

#179 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 10:46 PM

BTW, a friend of mine is a big fan of the Russian adaptation of these stories.

Despite the language barrier, and replacing ChrisRob with Piglet, this was much closer to Milne in tone (if not in looks) than any Disney adaptation, methinks.

Oswald Iten has posted a thoughtful comparison of the two versions, and he interestingly comes to a sort of opposite conclusion -- on some level, at any rate:

By eliminating the meta-level that both Milne and Reitherman used to indicate the child-like make-believe world of embarking on adventures with forest animals and stuffed toys alike, Khitruk is able to eliminate [Christopher Robin] and humans in general.


However, he does say that both versions "do Milne justice on different levels". Interesting stuff (and amply illustrated).