About a year ago, ace-reporter Jordan Thompson (who has just returned from Fort McMurray) and I, hit Assiniboine Park to shoot a fluff piece on its upcoming spring changes.
Well it turned out to be more than a fluff piece. It was a tubby-little-cubby-all-stuffed-with-fluff piece.
Yes, those are lyrics from Disney’s Winnie the Pooh, actually remembered, and not researched by me. Winnipeg took its obsessive claim to Winnie to the next level by adding a permanent museum to that crazy pavilion dedicated to the half-witted bear.
Here’s the story. It’s a longy, so you can skip ahead to the Pooh goodness at 2:00
I can’t find anything on the website verifying whether the forever-intended museum lasted a full year or not, but I can tell you something that the museum did/does not include.
Winnie the Pooh’s devious Soviet counterpart. A complete and utter masterpiece.
For those curious about how I rate the four Winnie the Pooh formats (original animation, Disney animation, weird stuffed-animal puppetry, Vinni) it goes as follows:
Absolutely beautiful drawings, soft pastels and delicate line work, expertly simplistic.
I love this crazy Bolshevik bear. The animation is completely mesmerizing, and there are several other key differences that make Vinni a superior Pukh.
– The characters are DEEP. Winnie is a bonified idiot, and Vinni is philosophical, pensive and manipulative. Both Vin and Win often sit for long amounts of time lost in thought. Vin does it so he can backward engineer-rationalize his actions. When Win does it it’s because it only takes the slightest non-paradox to throw him completely off his logical orientation.
– The animation is WILD. The opening sequence isn’t done in that “Oh look, an animator expertly crafted something to look like a kid had drawn it but it still looks professionally minimalistic”. It actually looks like creepy kids drawings, played over a plinkity toy piano sequence.
– YOU CAN’T LOOK AWAY. Vinni takes frequent breaks in his pensive pauses to take long empty stares at the screen. Boring into your soul!
Also, extra points for these awesome cultural shocks:
– The scene in the first episode where Vinni asks Piglet if he has a gun and he replies “of course”
– The fact that Winnie’s head is stuffed with fluff and Vinni’s bargain head is stuffed with sawdust.
– Winnie the Pooh sings tons of whimsical giggly songs. Vinni instead participates in a series of weird chant marches laced with “parump pum pums”, Piglet in tow as some sort of second in command.
*Neither plus nor minus: In Winnie the Pooh, a good most of the characters are very androgynous, whereas in Vinni, they seem to be more conventionally gendered. It didn’t really add much to the story, but an interesting character decision either way.*
All Vinni awesomeness aside, Winnie the Pooh Disney edition is still a pretty cool guy. In its early days the show offered some solid content, much darker than you can expect for children’s entertainment today. And some of the longer narratives were really intensely emotional. (Remember the Cassie narrative, when Rabbit takes in that orphaned bird?!) Also, I always loved how in the movies, they used to break the fourth wall and remind us that they were in a storybook, by panning out to reveal the letters, which often swirled about to mimic the weather and environment.
And although the character design is less appealing to me, the backgrounds retain a lot of their original charm.
Last Place: Puppets
Animation turned puppet fails at least 100% of the time. The same is somehow not true in reverse, as conclusively proven by Harry Potter Puppet pals. (Wallow in references with me!) Anyway, nothing wrong with the genre, but puppets be puppets, stay out of the second dimension.
Watch the “puppets-ruin-animation-theory” as demonstrated here, where the beloved Homestar Runner franchise instantly transforms from hilarious into worst-thing-ever.
There, wasn’t that horrifying?
Anyway there are only three episodes of Vinni Puhk, so you should probably watch them all, starting with the inaugural episode here. According to Wikipedia, these characters adhere a little closer to Milne’s original text.