Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Paddington’ (2015)

The Weinstein Company

The Weinstein Company

Broadening one’s outlook often occurs through travel and education. Both these archetypes of expansion are the heart of Paddington, which delights in sharing the arrival, in London, of the iconic teddy bear immortalized in Michael Bond’s books.

Written and directed by Paul King, the movie, a combination of live action and CG (for the bears), focuses on optimism and advancement, a hallmark of Jupiter’s desire to become larger than one’s perceived limitations.

Paddington begins with a grainy newsreel, as a British explorer – a fitting Jove-associated profession – shows his exploits in South America. There he has happened upon an extraordinary couple of talking bears (voiced by Michael Gambon and Imelda Staunton) who, through the explorer’s influence, become hardcore orange marmalade aficionados. The explorer departs, leaving the bears his burgundy Pharrell Williams-like hat as a souvenir, along with an invitation to visit if they ever happen to be in London.

Several years later, a natural disaster destroys the bear-couple’s habitat. The young bear in their care (voiced by Ben Whishaw) – who’s grown up being regaled with stories about the explorer – is presented with the opportunity to emigrate to London, where he could find that gent and maybe even a kindly family to adopt him. It’s no accident the creature is departing from a country referred to as “Darkest Peru” and will soon be entering the realm of radiant daylight and all the Jupiterian faith it suggests.

The spunky fur ball becomes the archetypal explorer himself by stowing away on a ship and making his way to London. The Brown family, who see him sitting forlornly at the underground’s tube entrance, invite the ursine creature to their home to spend the night and christen him Paddington, after the station where he’s landed.

The Browns are a vibrant bunch. The family members are kindly Mom (Sally Hawkins), cautious Dad (Hugh Bonneville) – he’s a lot more daring than his numbers-obsessed personality might suggest – and their children (Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin). A magical dynamic in the Browns’ Windsor Gardens residence lives on the wall next to the staircase: a tree that’s been artistically rendered which sheds and regrows its painted leaves. Upping the weirdness ante is their older housekeeper Mrs. Bird (Julie Walters), an antiques dealer (Jim Broadbent) and strange neighbor Mr. Curry (Peter Capaldi).

Delightfully brisk in its narrative propulsion, the film quickly focuses on the business of exploration, once again, as Paddington and the Browns try to locate the kindly explorer. In parallel fashion, taxidermist Millicent Clyde (Nicole Kidman), a natural-history museum big shot, has an obsessive interest in the bear and a fixation on another form of expansion involving glory, fame and knowledge.

Paddington seamlessly works in both positive and negative depictions of the archetype but, not surprisingly, celebrates the derring-do which traverses boundaries and ideally leads to Jupiterian wisdom.

Archetype: Explorer, Seeker, Educator, Traveler, Philosopher

Astrology Archetype: ♃ (Jupiter)

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