Getting Otter

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When all the new ideas have been used up, it’s time to go back to the old ideas and in trying to get some fresh material either (1) improve on the original or (2) remind us why we loved it as it started out, and poking around with the classics is a risky and fraught proposition. Anybody remaking a film with Audrey Hepburn in it might do well to remember this. Or anybody making an English version of a cult foreign drama or horror film. Or (almost) anybody covering old big band songs. And definitely anybody doing anything Madonna has already done. Ahem.

Picture: Return To The Hundred Acre Wood

At the end of a really enjoyable book or film or something, there’s a a bittersweet feeling where you have the satisfaction of how good it was, mixed with a wish that it had gone on a bit longer. But if it did go on longer, would we have enjoyed it more, or might the impact have just been watered down? This is probably a variation on the “Christmas wouldn’t be special if it was every day” argument, and when you go back to something years later and tack on extra bits, there’s even more probability of making a dog’s breakfast out of it (and looking like you’re milking a cash cow... moooo).

I have had a thing about Winnie The Pooh for longer than I can remember and, much as I think there is a place for the Disney version (as long as it doesn’t start colonising the world, Hello Kitty style), it doesn’t even come close to the original. The original was a just little less relentlessly cheery (although relentless cheeriness might be forgiven if you’re a Tigger), and maybe both a bit more thoughtful and a bit dafter. With much better pictures.

Picture: Return to the Hundred Acre Wood

And now, there is a new volume of Winnie The Pooh*. And I wonder (in a pootly, wondering sort of way) whether that can possibly be a good thing. It’s like trying to write a new Roald Dahl story once you don’t have Roald Dahl (especially given there is neither A.A. Milne nor E.H Shepard still around... ). But the thing that really got my interest is that there is a new character. And it is an Otter. An otter wearing a necklace. Is that entirely too much silliness, or can introducing an otter only ever be a positive development?

* Well, new-ish. Definitely new compared to the old ones...

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