Here are some interesting facts about Paddington 2, one of the best-reviewed and most beloved films of the UK.
Paddington was created by British author Michael Bond, whose family took in Jewish refugees during World War II. In a 2010 letter (seen in the 2019 documentary The Man Behind The Bear) he wrote,
“We took in some Jewish children who often sat in front of a fire of an evening, quietly crying because they had no idea what had happened to their parents, and neither did we at the time. It’s the reason why Paddington arrived with the label around his neck.”
Paddington Bear is considered a British icon, and rightly so by this point, but he was born out the shame Michael Bond felt about his government. In his autobiography he wrote,
“…there was a small open ship moored a little way apart from all the others. It was packed to suffocation with Jewish refugees, men, women and children making their way to Palestine. And for the first time, as I gazed down at them, I felt ashamed to be British.”
The real villain of the movie isn’t Hugh Grant’s character but rather Mr Curry, the neighbour who wants to send Paddington “back where he came from” and raises the “neighbourhood panic alert” to “wild hysteria” because of Paddington. (A pop at “terror alert level” type charts, I always assumed.)
So if you enjoyed Paddington 2 and its prequel… Consider where it all came from and what Michael Bond was saying about Britain and immigration. He and the filmmakers were not being subtle. You’re not gonna sing the praises of the British film industry while ignoring the very message one of its most prized films is promoting… Are you? No? Maybe sit back and listen and empathize with Afghani refugees the same way you did with Paddington, then.
“They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers.”