The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is the 22nd full-length animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions and first released on March 11, 1977.
The film is actually composed of material from three previously released animated featurettes based upon the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A. A. Milne: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966), Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974). Because of this, it is seen by some as one of the Disney "package films" (movies consisting of two or more short segments), the bulk of which were produced by the studio to keep costs down during World War II. Pooh was produced for similar economic reasons. This is also the last film in the Disney canon in which Walt Disney had personal involvement, since one of the shorts (Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree) was released during his lifetime, and he was involved in the production of Blustery Day. A fourth and final featurette based on the original books, Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore, was released in 1983 and is included as a bonus feature on the VHS and DVD release of the feature film.
Its characters have spawned an industry of sequels, television programs, clothing, books and toys. The film differs from the three individual shorts by having newly-created linking material, and an ending to give closure to the stories (based on the final chapter of The House at Pooh Corner). It was always Walt Disney's intention to create a feature film, but he decided to make shorts instead — after production had begun — to familiarize US audiences with the characters. All three shorts as well as future feature films boast classic songs by the Sherman Brothers including "Winnie the Pooh" and "The Wonderful thing About Tiggers".
The film also inspired an attraction of the same name at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Hong Kong Disneyland. A much more elaborate attraction, also based on the film, opened in Tokyo Disneyland as "Pooh's Hunny Hunt".
Pooh offers a silly suggestion to search for that same sand pit, and Rabbit responds that he will prove him wrong by finding a way home by himself. After he goes off, Pooh and Piglet wait a long time but he doesn't come back. Pooh then realizes that he and Piglet can find their way out of the mist by following Pooh's appetite for the honey pots he left at his house. Just when the two finally reach the end of the mist, they come across Tigger who reveals that he never gets lost easily. Pooh tells Tigger that Rabbit is still in the forest and Tigger heads back to find him. Rabbit is lost and ends up in a dark, damp and misty part of the forest, to add to that, he's scared by various animal noises. Frogs start croaking loudly, a caterpillar munches loudly on leaves and after seeing frogs sitting there in front of him, that gets to him so badly that it drives him mad and he frantically tries to run away, only to be tackled by Tigger. Tigger explains to him that "Tiggers never get lost", and drags Rabbit home.
Wintertime comes and Roo wants to go play. Kanga cannot be with him so she calls on Tigger to look after Roo as long as he comes back in a while for Roo's nap. Tigger gladly accepts. Along the way through the woods, Tigger and Roo see Rabbit skating on the ice. Tigger tries to teach Roo how to ice skate by doing it himself, but unfortunately, he loses his balance and collides with Rabbit while trying to regain it. In moments Tigger slides into a snowbank and Rabbit crashes into his house. Tigger then decides that he does not like ice skating.
Later on, while bouncing around the woods with Roo on his back, Tigger accidentally jumps to the top of a very tall tree and is too scared to dare climb down. He gets even more scared when Roo uses Tigger's tail as a swing, making Tigger think he's "rocking the forest". Meanwhile, Pooh and Piglet are investigating strange animal tracks that are really Tigger and Roo's. Suddenly, they hear Tigger howling for help and quickly hide. At first, Pooh mistakes Tigger's howl for the sound of a "Jagular"; but after seeing that it is only Tigger and Roo in the tree, he and Piglet come to the rescue. Shortly afterward, Christopher Robin, Rabbit, and Kanga arrive and the gang uses Christopher's coat as a net for Tigger and Roo to land in once they jump from the tree. Roo successfully jumps down but Tigger, who is still too frightened to move, makes up one excuse after another to not come down. Rabbit then decides that the group will just have to leave Tigger in the tree forever, on which Tigger promises never to bounce again if he ever is released from his predicament. At that moment, the narrator chimes in for help. Tigger begs him to "narrate" him down from the tree, and he tilts the book sideways, allowing Tigger to step onto the text of the page. Tigger starts to feel better that he made it this far but before he can do otherwise, the narrator tilts the book back the other way, causing Tigger to fall down into the snow.
Happy, Tigger attempts to bounce but Rabbit stops him reminding Tigger of the promise he made. Devastated, Tigger realizes he cannot bounce anymore and slowly walks away and Rabbit feels better that there will be peace. But everyone else is sad to see Tigger like this and remind Rabbit of the joy Tigger brought when he was bouncing. Finally, Rabbit also feels sorry for Tigger and takes back the promise they had agreed on, he is then given a friendly tackle by an overly-excited Tigger. Tigger invites everyone to bounce with him and even teaches Rabbit how to do it since Rabbit has the feet for it. For the first time, Rabbit is happy to be bouncing, as is everyone else as Tigger sings his signature song once more before the short closes.
We Say Good-bye
For the character Piglet, hand gestures and other movements were used by the animators to create expressiveness, since he (and Pooh) had the appearance of dolls or stuffed animals with relatively simple button eyes. The scene where Rabbit deals with Pooh's being part of the "decor of his home" was not in the original book, but was reportedly contemplated by Disney when he first read the book.
Film critic Leonard Maltin called the original Pooh featurettes "gems"; he also noted that the artwork resembles the book illustrations, and that the particular length of these featurettes meant that the filmmakers didn't have to "compress or protract their script." The film holds a 91% "fresh" rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Ruth Hill Viguers, however, when writing in A Critical History of Children’s Literature during the 1960s, mentioned Disney’s Winnie the Pooh along with several other Disney adaptations as having “destroyed the integrity of the original books”.
Back in the early 80's, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was not part of the Disney canon (with the other being Dumbo, because Dumbo was shown on television by Walt himself). The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh on the other hand, was the last package film to be released.
The American Film Institute nominated The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh for its Top 10 Animated Films list.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was first released on VHS, Betamax, CED videorecord, and laserdisc in the early 1980s. In 1996, it was re-released on VHS as part of the Masterpiece Collection and included video footage of the making which was shown before the movie starts. It was released on DVD for the first time in 2002 as a 25th Anniversary Edition, with digitally restored picture and sound. The individual shorts had also been released on their own on VHS in the 1990s.
The 25th anniversary edition DVD includes, among other bonus features, "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: The Story Behind the Masterpiece", which documents the history of the books and their initial film adaptations. It also features interviews with animators Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, and Burny Mattinson, as well as the Sherman brothers, Paul Winchell, and others. Digital Media FX reviewer Shannon Muir stated that the audio and video quality of the film on this DVD was very high.
The "Friendship Edition" DVD was re-released on June 19, 2007. All of the special features from the previous "25th Anniversary Edition" DVD were recycled; the only new addition being an episode of Playhouse Disney's computer-animated series My Friends Tigger & Pooh. The DVD re-release coincides with the 30th anniversary of the release of the film.