Paddington: The Marmalade to Spread on Your Day

What can a little bear from ‘Darkest Peru’ do to ease one’s tension, uplift a depressed mood, or simply elicit laughs out loud? Plenty. Paddington can do plenty of good for all of the above. I’d chosen the right film to come out of a stressful month.

Clever, fast-paced, passionate, and very funny, Paddington the movie is 95 minutes of pure delight. Although Michael Bond’s stories first came out in 1958, director and screenwriter Paul King has brought out some relevant, contemporary issues in his adaptation such as migrating to a new land, finding a home, striving to belong, accepting diversity, and basically the universal search for ways we can all live together despite differences.


The movie begins with a black-and-white old news reel. I like that already. An English explorer, Montgomery Clyde (Time Downie), heads over to ‘Darkest Peru’ and discovers a talking bear family. As he leaves, he urges them to visit London. After an earthquake that killed his Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon, voice), the little bear (charmingly voiced by Ben Whishaw) is sent out by Aunt Lucy (voice of Imelda Staunton) to head for a new life in this believed-to-be-friendly London. To send him off, Aunt Lucy hangs a little sign with a string around his neck that says: “Please look after this bear. Thank you.”

And so the little stowaway with a suitcase full of marmalade hides on board a cargo ship and is transported to a foreign land where the Brown family finds him at Paddington Station. Thus his new name.

Despite the chaos that ensues in the Brown household, and the initial reluctance of Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville, who is like a Papa bear himself), and daughter Judy (Madeleine Harris, “So embarrassing!”), Paddington’s inept charm readily wins the heart of the enthusiastic Mrs. Brown (the always enthusiastic Sally Hawkins) and very friendly young son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin). Later, Paddington finally gains even the public’s favour with his serendipitous heroism on the streets of London.

Here is no place to argue against stock characters. Of course we need a villain; we have the parallel of Cruella De Vil of 101 Dalmatians in the form of Millicent, played by Nicole Kidman. I’m sure she enjoys doing that too. Driving a van that says Taxi when the sliding door is opened, she soon reveals herself a taxidermist when the door is closed. Good to see stars letting loose in non-typecast roles. Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent also present for you to discover. And if you know what the Paddington Bear author Michael Bond looks like, you can find him in cameo too.

Very well integrated are the effects of real-life, human actors interfacing with the animated bear and other cartoonish scenarios. Do we need to know how the technical genius behind the screen worked, how they used around 600 shots with bears, which required 350 people across two countries working on the visual effects for three years… to enjoy the film? Definitely not, maybe best we don’t go into the complexities of CGI’s, simulations, and yes, how to deal with fur. The final results are all what the technical team had striven for, delivering what they would like us to see. I can fully appreciate the effects. Kudos to them all.

It is definitely a snub Paddington doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, in any category. While in the land of its origin (England, not Peru), Paddington is nominated for two 2015 BAFTA Awards (The ‘British Oscars’): Best Adapted Screenplay and Best British Film. So I do hope the box office here can redeem the slight on this side of the Atlantic. Go see how the little bear and his new-found family can dispel your winter blues. Noms or no noms, this is a winner in my book.

As for that sign Aunt Lucy hangs around Paddington’s neck, we may need to heed it even more in this conflict-ridden world of ours:

“Please look after this bear. Thank you.”

~ ~ ~ 1/2 Ripples


Click on the link to the fascinating article in The Telegraph, Paddington: The technology behind the small bear from Darkest Peru.


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

21 thoughts on “Paddington: The Marmalade to Spread on Your Day”

    1. Yinling,

      Do go for it. You’ll find how it differs from a Disney production. Even the jokes are different… not trying to patronize adults or kids, but simply, jokes for all ages. 😉


  1. That sounds like a delightful movie, very worthwhile to watch and I’ll make sure we go, if it comes around our area. Thanks for talking about it. Paddington bear is so lovable anyway. Years ago my company gave a little Paddington Bear to each person who gave enough to their March of Dimes drive. I have a little Paddington Bear wearing a yellow rain coat and hat – I see him every morning near my window and even if the weather is gloomy, Paddington makes me smile.


    1. VB,

      That is a charming anecdote you have. You’ll enjoy this one, I’m sure. I admit I haven’t read much Paddington. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I’m really interested to get to the books. Also, I can see that the movie Paddington may not gain as much popularity here in North America than in Britain. I sure hope more people would discover the charm of this little Peruvian bear, and this gem of a movie. BTW, the current two posts on your blog about French satire are amazing research works. Bravo to you! They read like full feature of investigative journalism.


      1. Thank you for liking my last two posts on French satire. Just to see I looked at the page view number for these posts and it was 435 so far. I am surprised that so many people looked at them as not even 10% commented. I am not surprised on that percentage though because I think most bloggers here prefer short posts on plain subjects. I was just reading another Canadian blogger; she usually posts one picture and 2 or 3 short paragraphs and gets 70 comments or more on each post. But I don’t write my posts to get comments; I write them because I like to research some subjects fully. This could also be a culture thing – I read several blogs in French and they are quite detailed, maybe life is so hectic and the pace so rapid in the US that most people don’t like to read, they prefer a sentence on Facebook maybe, but I don’t know much about “social media” anyway. Thank you for the reply.


        1. VB,

          As you can see, I’m one of the those who write longer posts. About 800 – 1000 words each (much shorter than yours though). I do this because some of my reviews I send out for publication somewhere else. You mentioned not even 10% commented on your posts. That is a huge number. For me, I’ve over 5,500 followers. Some posts have just about 1% of them reading. And maybe 10% of that 1% leave comments. So you’re right, you and I don’t write in order to get comments. I know exactly how to attract more traffic: shorter posts, less words, more images and photos. But then again, I’m not writing to please the crowd or to gain ‘likes’ and followers. I take it that the length and the content of our posts automatically screen our readership. And I’m glad about that. I’m sure you are too. Keep up the good work you’ve been doing on your blog. They are informative and a pleasure to read.


  2. How lovely and the perfect movie for you right now. You know, sometimes I don’t want to know what is behind the curtain, despite my curious mind about effects. I just want the magic.And from where I sit, anytime I can find Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Jim Brodbent and Imelda Staunton in the same movie, I’m already elated! What a delightful review. Love it!


    1. Jeanie,

      You’re absolutely right! When we see magic, just enjoy the fun and bewilderment. Finding out how it’s done may just diminish the appeal. And yes, with a cast and voices here (imagine Michael Gambon lending his voice as a bear), this production is a must-see. Hope you’ll have the chance to see it right where you are without having to drive to a major city for it.


  3. It’s here! It’s playing right here in my closest theatre this week only. We’re forecast to have rain a couple of days this week, so a daytime showing might be possible. I’m going to call up a friend tomorrow and see if I can persuade her to go. She could use a little cheering up herself (dealing with a bad knee) so it might be the perfect film.

    I don’t know much about Paddington myself. I know that there’s a Paddington Bear, but that’s about the extent of it. I think I’ll see the film first, and then maybe look at the books.

    Thanks for such an appealing review!


    1. Linda,

      Do come back and tell me what you think of it after watching. We here in N.A. aren’t so familiar as those in UK re. Paddington, I admit. So our appreciation may diminish a bit. But there’s universal appeal here in the movie. I’m curious to see some ripples from your two pebbles. 😉


      1. I think this little story will sum everything up for you perfectly.

        My friend likes to watch all the credits, so after the film was over, we were watching them scroll. The list suddenly began showing the animators — a goodly number of them — and I said, “Why in the world would they need so many animators? I didn’t see any animation.”

        Feel free to laugh, Arti. 🙂 To me, animation still is Disney, c. 1950, I guess. Paddington was so real to me, it was a little embarassing in retrospect. But only a little.

        I loved it. It’s one I might buy on DVD, just for the pleasure of re-watching. I thought it was quite sophisticated in its humor, I loved the development of the story lines, and I nearly died when that horrible taxidermist showed up. No spoilers here, but at the end — well, let’s just say there came a moment when I was horror-stricken!

        I thought it was perfectly delightful. It was refreshing, and it was nice to follow nice characters. How many ripples are tops? Five? Four? Whatever’s tops, I’ll give them to Paddington.


        1. Linda,

          I knew you’d love it! Glad you went and experienced the joy of watching a good movie… yes, even an animated one. 😉 I rate all my reviews out of 4 Ripples, so, 3.5 Ripples here is a high score. I’m a hard marker, seldom do I give a perfect score. But this one is close to it. Do click on the link I have at the end of the post to the article about the technical, the how of the human/animation interface. Again, here’s the quote I’d included in my review: “how they used around 600 shots with bears, which required 350 people across two countries working on the visual effects for three years.” BTW, I’m one of the few who sit to read all the credits in every movie I watch. You’ll find some surprises that way. Glad your friend made you sit till the very end.


  4. I loved the Paddington books when I was little. In retrospect, it was this idea that you could make mistakes and STILL be loved afterwards, that even the mistake-making might be endearing in its way, that made them so compelling for me. That and the line drawings of Paddington. I’d stayed away from the movie not wanting to ruin childhood memories, but it sounds like it is charmingly done.


    1. litlove,

      You’re right about that… the mistakes are endearing, and all the chaos only makes us love this little bear even more. And it’s vividly depicted in the movie. I haven’t developed any imagery of Paddington because we here in N.Am. aren’t so familiar with these books as you do, so there aren’t any tarnishing of cherished vision. But then again, you just may like the interpretation in the movie, for Paddington is quite a charmer here, and the production overall is very well done. Just look at the cast, real actors and voices.


    1. Stefanie,

      Yes, and for those who just need some clean fun. Unlike the usual Disney movies, which try to appeal to adults by making ‘adult jokes’, Paddington’s jokes are … um, shall I say, ‘ageless’.


    1. Louise,

      This would be one of the few films which drive me to the book after watching. I’ll definitely look for them. This bear is so fascinating. 😉


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