Paddington Bear fest

2014-11-08 00:00

THE new movie Paddington has sparked a resurgence of interest in the bear from darkest Peru, with exhibitions, statues and a new book of his adventures coming out before the New Year.

Paddington Bear’s journey to the silver screen has been a long one, but Michael Bond’s much-loved children’s book character has been popular ever since he first appeared in 1958.

The impeccably polite stowaway turned up at London Paddington railway terminal with a battered suitcase containing a nearly-finished jar of marmalade, and a label on his blue duffel coat reading: “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” The inspiration for the character came on Christmas Eve 1956 when Bond, a writer and BBC cameraman, saw a lonely-looking teddy bear in a shop near his home close to Paddington station, and bought it for his wife.

In Bond’s original tales, the young bear finds himself alone in a big and unfamiliar city. Taken in by the Brown family, he finds a warm welcome and a safe place to stay and sets out to discover more about his adopted city.

The new film premieres in Britain on November 28 (January 2015 in South Africa), but the Paddington Bear fest is already well under way in the United Kingdom.

The House of Illustration gallery in London got the ball rolling on October 18 with its “Paddington: Illustrated and Animated” exhibition on how artists through the decades have interpreted the diminutive bear.

A second exhibition, due to open at the Museum of London on November 14, traces Paddington’s history over the decades through objects drawn from private collections.

It includes the first edition of the first book, which is signed by Bond and belongs to his daughter Karen Jankel, original drawings and stuffed toys, and props from the Paddington film. It also contains one of 50 statues of the bear that will be dotted out around London — each with a different celebrity-designed paint job. The Sherlock Bear at the museum was designed by the actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

Other bears have been designed by actresses Nicole Kidman and Emma Watson, football icon David Beckham, London Mayor Boris Johnson, the England rugby union team and Chelsea Football Club. The statues started to appear on Tuesday at Heathrow Airport and Trafalgar Square, and bear-hunters will be able to follow a Paddington Trail map around London landmarks.

They will be auctioned for charity in December.

Bond, who has also designed his own statue of the bear, is bringing out a new story, Love from Paddington, on December 23. The book is in the form of letters written to Paddington’s aunt, Lucy, back in Peru, telling her about his new life in London. — Sapa-AFP.

WHAT IS THE FILM ABOU T?

Paddington has grown up deep in the Peruvian jungle with his Aunt Lucy who, inspired by a chance encounter with an English explorer, has raised her nephew to dream of an exciting life in London.

When an earthquake destroys their home, Aunt Lucy decides to smuggle her young nephew on board a boat bound for England in search of a better life. Arriving alone at Paddington Station, Paddington soon finds that city life is not all he had imagined — until he meets the kindly Brown family, who find him with a label tied around his neck that reads “Please look after this bear. Thank you”.

They offer him a temporary home while he searches for the explorer who impressed Aunt Lucy all those years before. But when Paddington catches the eye of a sinister, seductive taxidermist, it isn’t long before his home — and very existence — is under threat.

Paddington is written and directed by Paul King (Bunny and the Bull, The Mighty Boosh) produced by David Heyman (Gravity, Harry Potter) and stars Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent and Nicole Kidman, with Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington. — Arts Editor.

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