Paddington Bear’s Facelift

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Sorti en salle le 28 novembre en Angleterre et le 3 décembre en France, la comédie franco-britannique Paddington a redonné un coup de jeune au célèbre petit ourson. Mais l’innocent Paddington Bear est sujet à controverse…

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Paddington Bear is a fictional bear created by British writer Michael Bond in a series of twenty three books written between 1958 and 2012. The author was inspired by a teddy bear which he offered to his wife for Christmas in 1956.
Paddington is a young bear who lives in Peru with his aunt Lucy. When Lucy goes to a retirement home for bears, he has nobody to take care of him. Then, he takes a lifeboat, and lands in London.
Later, he gets acquainted with his future host family, the Browns, on a platform in Paddington station.

A statue of him at Paddinton station in London:

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The Browns decide to call him “Paddington” and adopt him. He lives numerous adventures afterward.
The first episode, entitled
A Bear Called Paddington was published for the first time on October 13th, 1958. The BOOKS  were translated into about forty languages and sold more than 35 million copies over fifty years.

A few weeks ago, the movie Paddington was released and is a box-office hit with more than 500,000 tickets sold in France so far and many in England too.

Computer generated images gave a youthful boost to the small bear, as one can see below:

  Pad3  Original Paddington Bear

pad4Modern Paddington

However one can think that the timelessness of Paddington shows that today creativity is nonexistent. Contrary to James Bond who knows how to be renewed through new adventures, the adventures of Paddington are always strictly the same. It looks like a heated recipe, an easy way to success.

Furthermore, the adaptation underwent some criticisms because of a scene which is said to be unacceptable for the youth, in which we see Mister Brown, the father who welcomes the bear cub at his home in London, disguised as a woman who is picked up by another manThe BBFC points at another two sequences: when Paddington hides in a refrigerator and when he rides a skateboard behind a bus. The BBFC also notes some “strong language”.

After a few hours of debate, the BBFC finally confirmed that it maintained the PG classification (“parental guidance”) but changed the mention “light sexual references” into simple “insinuations”. It is meant only to be a notice intended to advise parents. It seems somewhat absurd when everyone knows the British youth is confronted with much more violent images than those with mild “sexual insinuations” in a movie with a teddy bear.

It is always pleasant to give an icon a second life but today’s young people should also have new stories, otherwise England’s culture will only go round in circles. The criticisms of the “controversial” scenes show that cartoon movies are particularly controlled. It is right to control that youth be shown adequate representations and not be educated in the misogyny of some (older) Disney movies, for example. But why are so many violent movies and video games authorised then?

Oussama BEN DHIAB & Clément MYROPE

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