Paddington. Dir. Paul King. StudioCanal. 2014.

The 2014 film ‘Paddington’ appears to champion inclusivity and acceptance of migrants over merely wanting to observe or distance ourselves from animals and people that are different from us, just as Millicent does with her taxidermy. In essence, Paddington is a migrant, ‘an outsider trying to find a new home’ [1] in England after the devastation of his previous home in Peru, and the film is full of similar characters who have migrated to England to find a new home, like Mr Gruber and the busking Caribbean calypso band. To explore this in detail, a small clip from the film will be examined, starting from 16 minutes and ending at 16:19. The film extract begins with Mrs Mary Brown enquiring what Paddington’s name is, Paddington tells her that he does have a ‘bear name’ but it seems hard to pronounce, as a humorous scene prior to this one had Henry awkwardly trying to imitate Paddington’s roar and ending up insulting Paddington by saying something rude in bear. Therefore, Mary asks him if he she should like an English name, then, instead.

As Paul King, the director of the film, rightly states, ‘there’s something special about London. Without trying to be political about it, big cities can feel like safe places for people who feel a little bit different.’ [2] This is evidenced in the film extract when a talking bear cub is stood on a table in the station’s café, speaking English to the Brown family and stood on his hind legs, and yet the other patrons in the café pay them no attention and are entirely unfazed by such an extraordinary sight. It illustrates the diversity of London that there is no fanfare or disbelief in finding a bear stood on a table, openly conversing, even though both these things would usually draw attention. In fact, just him being a bear would draw attention without having to make him even more distinctive. Furthermore, the acceptance of these patrons of something/someone so different and unconventional is remarkable; Paddington struggles to find kindness and someone willing to listen to him, prior to the Brown’s approaching him in the scene that comes directly before this short extract, not because the commuters who passed him in the station are not accepting of something so different but because the film is playing upon the idea that in London, people don’t have the time or manners to deal with strangers. Moreover, just like Michael Bond was influenced by the evacuation of children to the countryside in WWII and how Paddington’s director, Paul King, was influenced by music of the ‘immigrant community who were settling in Notting Hill […] around the time when Michael Bond began writing his classic children’s books’, it would appear the filmmakers took notice of the political affairs in England when producing the film like the rise of the UKIP partying lobbying against immigration and immigrant communities. [3] Therefore, while Paddington’s stories were made decades ago, Bond’s society was experiencing the same influx of immigrants as ours is today. Thus, this example of diversity and acceptance within London presents as an ideal for how different people, from varied backgrounds, should be treated through demonstrating the eventual positive effects that come with welcoming these people into our lives. This is all established through the presence of a talking bear being received with so little commotion from the general public in this extract, illustrating diversity as less of an oddity and more of an accepted, normal thing in London.

‘But serious as Paddington is about meaning something, it’s even more serious about the business of having fun.’[4]

Another detail of the short extract that threads into the previous arguement is Mary Brown talking to Paddington about his name and giving him an ‘English’ name when his bear name proves hard to pronounce. It refers back to the comedy of the scene prior to this one, where Paddington encourages Henry to mimic Paddington’s pronunciation of his bear name, which is essentially a bear roar, but ends up accidentally saying something rude in bear instead. In answer to Mary’s question, Paddington refers back to this comic moment when he tells her that has a bear name but that people struggle to say it properly.  it leads up to the moment when Paddington becomes named Paddington after the train station the Browns found him in. While, this is generally a lighthearted moment, it can be interpreted as an outsider being officially welcomed into a family unit or a community through renaming him something that identifies him as English (a famous train station there) rather than allowing him to keep his animal name, and that link back to the culture he came from. Therefore, Paddington is essentially renamed because people struggle with his old name, and do not bother to try pronouncing it properly so instead rename him something they can identify with. Therefore, while an ideal is presented in how to welcome migrants, and generally people who are defined as different, the film still highlights areas where society still struggles to overcome barriers between cultures. But as the quote above reminds, the film is primarily designed for entertainment, implied meaning is intended to be subtle and implicit in order to avoid diminishing the easy fun of a children’s film and complicating an already well-established, popular children’s story.

[1] Tim Masters, ‘The story behind Paddington’s calypso songs’, BBC, (2014), <>, (Accessed 13th January 2017), para. 18

[2] Chris Hewitt, ‘Paddington review’, Empire, (2014), <>, (Accessed 13th January 2017), para. 9

[3] Tim Masters, ‘The story behind Paddington’s calypso songs’, para. 2

[4] Robbie Collin, ‘Paddington, review: ‘a total delight’’, Telegraph, (2014),, (Accessed 14th January 2017), para. 10


– Collin, Robbie, ‘Paddington, review: ‘a total delight’’, Telegraph, (2014),, (Accessed 14th January 2017)

– Hewitt, Chris, ‘Paddington review’, Empire, (2014),, (Accessed 13th January 2017)

– Masters, Tim, ‘The story behind Paddington’s calypso songs’, BBC, (2014),, (Accessed 13th January 2017)