This week’s focus is on how we can create audience identification with the protagonist of a film.
In Goodbye Christopher Robin, the author Alan (A.A.) Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) is portrayed as having a distant, detached relationship with his son, Christopher Robin. It’s only when Alan’s wife and Christopher’s nanny are both away that Alan starts enjoying spending time with Christopher. Yet he uses the games he plays with his son as the basis for the Winnie the Pooh stories, which go on to consume his life, leading him further away from a close relationship with Christopher.
Despite the apparent coldness of his character, we are led to sympathise with Alan from right at the beginning of the film. He is called to war, and experiences the absolute horrors of that time, coming back with PTSD. Although the film spends perhaps two minutes on his wartime experiences, it’s enough for us to realise just how traumatised he is. Coming back, all he wants to do is to move somewhere peaceful and write an anti-war book. The PTSD leads him to have visual and auditory hallucinatory experiences, distracting him from his time with Christopher. As a viewer, we can empathise with his plight, and want nothing more than for him to form a loving relationship with Christopher.