All stuffed with fluff and heart, he's one of Disney's biggest franchises next to Mickey and pals. We are, of course, talking about Winnie the Pooh. The cuddly bear has been a friend to many children since he first hit the screen and page.
Created by British author and essayist A.A. Milne, Pooh and his crew have been life-long friends of ours thanks to Walt Disney, but first appeared in bedtime stories for his son, Christopher Robin Milne. Disney's original adaptation was actually quite accurate, but how do the versions differ? Join us as we find out the differences between the movies and the books.
In the films, Pooh lives in a home built into a tree, as many residents of the Hundred Acre Wood do. In the book, however, we are shown from the get-go he is indeed a living stuffed animal who lives with Christopher Robin. We even see him getting dragged down the stairs, thinking there must be a better way to get down them.
A slightly altered version of this does exist in the first film, but Pooh lives in a storybook instead of being a plush companion only. This is only half the equation, though. Check our next entry to see how confusing things get.
In the first book of the series, Pooh is actually sitting beside Christopher Robin hearing the narrator tell stories about himself. Apparently, Pooh enjoys stories about himself because he's "that sort of bear." Seems Pooh has a little bit of an ego, doesn't he?
It would appear that Book-Pooh and Story-Pooh are two separate entities. One lives with Christopher Robin, the other lives in the Hundred Acre Wood and goes on many adventures. Does this mean the Pooh we know is all in the imagination and that his adventures don't even happen to him? This is starting to make us ask way too many questions.
When you think of Winnie the Pooh, the image of the Disney version is probably the first that comes to mind. You see a chubby, cuddly, yellow bear in a red shirt and clutching a pot of honey, right? While this image of the character is the most common, his original design was much simpler and didn't even include the shirt till the 30s.
The original illustrations done by E.H. Shepard served as the foundation for Disney artists to perfect their version. The illustrated Pooh had a much more sketchbook design and basic features, giving him a whimsical quality. Disney's Pooh was an improvement, but a classic never goes out of style.
One very notable difference between the book and the movie is that the book has more songs than the film adaptation—and, yes, we're serious. That means the Disney version has a smaller soundtrack than its source material—sounds pretty weird, right?
The reason for this is that A.A. Milne was one of Britains most renowned poets. Even while he was writing a children's book he showed his love of verse and prose. Many elements of Milne went into the songs by the Sherman Brothers, but Milne tends to break out into verse more than the average Disney character.
One very obvious difference between the two is the humor. The animated adaptation lent itself to more physical and visual jokes, where the book was more wit and verse. Both versions are very rich in humor, but they might not reach the same audience.
Don't get us wrong, Pooh was made to be an animated character, but the use of wit in the book is simply on point. At times, Pooh could be surprisingly dry-humored, sometimes sassy, and sometimes even profound. Loaded with puns, wordplay, and riffs, it's really quite a well-written work for a children's book.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the works in terms of characters is certainly Tigger. In Disney's version, he's bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun-fun-fun-fun-fun, but his literary counterpart is a different breed. Tigger in the book is more of a rambunctious child-like character, just as active, but lacking the Disney version's charm.
Book-Tigger is a little more of a troublemaker than in the Disney version—if that can even be possible. He's a strange, stripey creature that walks on four legs and doesn't even show up till the second book (more on that later). Call us a little biased, but there's a more lovable element present with the Disney adaptation.
One thing that Disney did add in their first adaptation of Winnie the Pooh was the introduction of Gopher. The whistling rodent makes no appearance in any of the original books but was a comedic character invented specifically for Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. That being said, he did serve as a little inside joke for Disney fans.
In Disney's version, Gopher has the line "You've got my card. I'm not in the book, ya know." This is a wink to anyone in the audience familiar with the series by Milne, indicating Gopher's addition to the film. A cheap laugh maybe, but not unappreciated.
Though the Heffalumps and Woozles weren't invented by Disney, they do have a more prominent role in the animated adaptation. They have their own nightmare sequence, appearance in the Disney World ride, and even have a featured character in the form of Lumpy the Heffalump. However, in Milne's version, Heffalumps and Woozles aren't that big of a deal.
They exist, but only in the minds of excitable creatures like Piglet. They are entirely fictitious in the realm of the Hundred Acre Wood. Aside from Pooh having a nightmare about a giant elephantine creature and Piglet attempting to capture a Woozle, they do not physically appear in the books.
When creating The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Walt Disney pulled from not one but two prominent titles in the series. The first book, Winnie-the-Pooh, and the second, The House at Pooh Corner, helped shape the film we know today. Though the first introduces the character and much of the familiar narrative, the second introduces iconic stories and one particular character.
Pooh Corner is not only responsible for more more than the entire last third of the original film, but it also introducing Tigger to the series. Essentially Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, we can't understand why the second book in the series isn't more popular.
Pooh is one of the simplest motivated characters. While other protagonists are trying to venture forth to some life-changing venture, Pooh is just content to exist in his own little world. Being a bear of very little brain, that's nothing unusual... unless you compare him to his book counterpart. That's where the questions arise.
In the book, Pooh is much more verbose and deeper than his Disneyfied version, possessing a large vocabulary and tendency to improvise poems. Suddenly he's not such a silly-old-bear. Obviously taking a page or two from his author, Pooh might not be the bear of very little brain he claims to be.