Move Over, Odysseus: Christopher Robin Takes a Classic Hero’s Journey

Move Over, Odysseus: Christopher Robin Takes a Classic Hero’s Journey August 9, 2018
Winnie-the-Pooh and Ewan McGregor in Disney’s Christopher Robin, photo from the Disney trailer

To the denizens of the Hundred-Acre Wood, Christopher Robin has always been a hero. In A.A. Milne’s classic stories (and in Disney’s animated cartoons, too), he’s saved them from high waters and heffalumps, from bees and burrows and, very often, from themselves.

But in Disney’s Christopher Robin, Christopher (in a fantastic performance by Ewan McGregor) joins the likes of Odysseus, Frodo Baggins and Luke Skywalker in taking a classic Hero’s Journey straight out of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth.

Almost all hero stories take many elements from this age-old form, from The Wizard of Oz to Men in Black, sometimes omitting some, adding others or twisting the order. But Christopher Robin is as faithful to the classic 12-step Hero’s Journey (the version adapted by Christopher Vogler) as anything I’ve seen—so much so that if I should ever become a college movie professor and teach a class on the Hero’s Journey, I’ll be showing my students this.

If you’ve seen the Christopher Robin (but only if you’ve seen it, because every unpacking of a hero’s journey involves spoilers), cross the threshold and see what I mean:

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