This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers. Paddington is rated PG for dangerous behaviour, mild threat, innuendo, infrequent mild bad language. The film is available on DVD.
In darkest Peru a young bear (Ben Wishaw) has grown up in the care of his Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon) and Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton). But these are no ordinary bears. After the visit of a British explorer (Tim Downie) many years before, Pastuzo and Lucy have learnt to talk. They are fluent in British manners and have a passion for marmalade. The family dreams of visiting the London the explorer told them about, where he promised they would always receive a warm welcome. When a violent storm destroys their idyllic life, Aunt Lucy sends her nephew to fulfil the family dream. With a suitcase filled with jars of marmalade, his Uncle’s hat (complete with emergency marmalade sandwich inside) and a label saying ‘Please look after this bear, thank you’, the young bear stows away on a ship bound for the golden city.
When he arrives, however, all is not quite as expected. In the hustle and bustle of Paddington Station no one replies to a small bear’s polite greetings and requests for a home. Enter the Brown family – Mary (Sally Hawkins), Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and their children Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) and Judy (Madeleine Harris). Untrusting Henry hurries them past the forlorn-looking bear but Mary takes pity, naming him Paddington and offering shelter.
As the clumsy, kind-hearted bear starts to make friends and learn how to live in this strange new world, the search for a permanent home becomes the least of his worries. For a fanatical taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) has heard of the arrival of this unusual specimen and has her sights set on a new addition to her collection. How will Paddington escape her evil clutches? As the Browns begin to realise that they need Paddington just as much as he needs them, can they help him in time?
- Did you enjoy the film, and why or why not? What were your favourite moments? If you’ve read the Paddington books, how did the film compare?
- What did you think of Paddington? Did he make you laugh? How did you feel when he was alone at the station?
- What other characters and parts of the film made you laugh? Why did you find them funny?
- How did you react to Millicent? Did you find her scary? Why or why not? Do you think she received a suitable punishment at the end?
‘London is not how we imagined it. Nobody ever says hello or wears hats.’ – Paddington
- What do Paddington, Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo think London is going to be like? How does Paddington find it different? Why do you think this is? Can you think of a time when you went somewhere that wasn’t exactly how you imagined it?
- Why is Henry concerned about having Paddington in his house? How have Judy and Jonathan been affected by Henry’s obsession with safety? How do your parents try to make sure you are both happy and safe?
- Why does Aunt Lucy think that British people will look after Paddington? How is Paddington treated when he arrives in London? Why do you think people treat him like that? How do you think we should treat people who are new to this country, or to our schools or friendship groups?
‘Mrs Brown says that in London everyone is different but that means that anyone can fit in.’ – Paddington
- Why do we like to feel that we can ‘fit in’? Are there times when you have felt different? What was it like? How can we celebrate one another’s differences?
‘I soon learned that home is more than a roof over your head.’ – Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent)
- How would you describe your home, and what do you like about it? What do you think Mr Gruber means when he says that ‘home is more than a roof over your head’?
- What did you think of the film’s aesthetic? How is London presented? What interesting visual devices are used to tell the story, and what effect do these have on the viewer?
‘This family needed that bear, every much as he needed you.’ – Mrs Bird (Julie Walters)
- What effect does Paddington have on the Brown household? How do the different members of the Brown family change through knowing Paddington? How did you respond to the film’s portrayal of the family dynamic?
‘Do they play cricket?’
‘Do they drink tea?’
‘That’s a rum idea of civilised you’ve got.’ – Members of the Geographers’ Guild
- How do the attitudes of the Geographers’ Guild – and the way Paddington is treated in London – compare with common attitudes to immigrants and migrants in our society? Can we learn anything from Montgomery Clyde about how to integrate cultures? Can you think of any positive examples of this happening in real life?
Mary: We can’t just leave him here.
Henry: Of course we can, he’s not our responsibility.
- Do Mary and Henry have any responsibility for Paddington? What responsibility, if any, do we have for people who aren’t part of our family or social circle? How do we define what is our responsibility and what isn’t?
‘We love Paddington and that makes him family.’ – Mary
- How did a bear from Peru become part of a British human family? Do you know any people that you would call family, but who aren’t related to you? How did these relationships come about? To what extent is the old saying ‘blood is thicker than water’ true, and how does the story of Paddington challenge this concept of family?