Walt Disney Animation Studios returns to the Hundred Acre Wood with “Winnie the Pooh.” Featuring the timeless charm, wit and whimsy of the original short films, this all-new movie reunites audiences with the philosophical “bear of very little brain” and friends Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo—and last, but certainly not least, Eeyore, who has lost his tail.
Pooh" is Disney's first hand-drawn animated film since 2009's "The Princess and the Frog," and a relative rarity in an era dominated by computer-generated animated films like the "Toy Story" and "Shrek" series.
Based on three A.A. Milne stories that originated in the 1920s, the G-rated "Winnie the Pooh" takes place over one day in the Hundred Acre Wood. Pooh is bothered because there is a rumble in his tummy and he can't find any honey. Poor Eeyore the donkey has lost his tale and Owl has misunderstood a note Pooh has found from their beloved Christopher Robin that says "Gone out. Busy. Back soon."
Two years ago, John Lasseter, who is the chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, had "Pooh" directors Stephen Anderson and Don Hall look at vintage Disney "Pooh" shorts and movies to see if there was a way to make the bear relevant to 2011. The filmmakers quickly realized the best way was to return Pooh to his roots.
"That meant two things: To go back to the books and try to mine everything we could from them, and then go back to the Disney roots from those early films," said Hall.
"There are all kinds of new technologies we could have used to make this movie," added Anderson. "We could have made it in 3-D, but these characters began life beautifully in simple pen and ink illustrations in the '20s and then continued life as traditionally hand-drawn animation in the '60s and early '70s from Disney. So to us that is really the world they live in. That is the best way to put that charm and simplicity of the characters up on the screen."
The directors, producer, art director and head of story went to England to visit Ashdown Forest in Sussex where A.A. Milne's son, Christopher Robin Milne, would play with his stuffed animals.
Anderson admits that he’s really proud of the “honey dream” scene because everything seems to mesh — from those striking visuals to a sense of drama and wonder to the accompanying Everything is Honey song sung by actress Zooey Deschanel and her songwriting collaborators, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
“It’s gorgeous to look at, I love the animation effects work, and the song is beautiful,” Anderson says. “I love listening to the song even by myself, but to me it also reminds me of those great music fantasy sequences from classic Disney — like those pink elephants on parade in Dumbo. As a kid, I loved it when Disney movies would go on these little flights of fancy, taking a break from story and having a sequence of fun.”
The film opens July 15.