Based on a true story, this charming film, which will appeal to adults and children alike, explores the relationship of the extraordinary black bear who became the inspiration for the stories of A.A. Milne, and the heroic man who saved her life and gave her to the world.
August 1914. The outbreak of World War One. The Canadian city of Winnipeg is gripped by a patriotic frenzy. Troops march through the heart of the city as young men in civilian clothes rush to join the ranks. Among the troops is Lieutenant Harry Colebourn (Michael Fassbender, Band of Brothers, Gunpowder), a supremely confident and likeable vet who has a gift with animals.
When Colebourn saves a tiny bear cub by buying her from a hunter, his new comrade, Macray, predicts trouble. And he’s right. He names his new bear Winnie and her curiosity causes all kinds of problems, especially with their senior officer, Barret (Gil Bellows, Ally McBeal, Shawshank Redemption) who hates the bear. When she is blamed for a stampede amongst the horses, he orders her to be shot.
But Winnie is a breath of fresh air from the harsh realities of war for the soldiers and is given a reprieve by old fashioned General Halholland (David Suchet, Poirot, Henry VIII) by becoming the regimental mascot.
When Colebourn’s regiment are drafted to the trenches a devastated Colebourn leaves Winnie behind in London Zoo in the care of Zoo Keeper Protheroe (Steven Fry, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Black Adder). Winnie becomes the star attraction of London Zoo – providing entertainment and comfort for children whose lives have been torn apart by war.
When justice is done and the war is won, Colebourn returns to the Zoo to fulfil the promise he made to Winnie to take her home to Canada. But seeing the happiness she brings to so many children, he is faced with a tough decision.
Air date: 2005
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