Saving Mr. Banks
A film by John Lee Hancock
“Winds in the east, theres a mist comin’ in,
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and ’bout to begin. Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I feel what’s to happen all happened before”
We all know the infamous prologue to the beginning of the beloved story of Mary Poppins
After I heard that there was a film being made about how Mary Poppins became a Disney classic I was excited for the release.
I could think of no two people better to play Mr. Walt Disney himself and PL Travers the author of the Mary Poppins storybook, than Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson. These actors are by far some of my favorite, and some of the best actors in Hollywood. They nailed it!
The supporting actors were well cast too! B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman who played the songwriting Sherman brothers. Bradley Whitford who played the writer Don DaGradi, Paul Giamatti as the driver, and Colin Farrell as Mr. Travers.
I really found it enjoyable that Disney made a movie about how one of their classics came to be. As a lover of the backstory within filmmaking and character development, I found the idea for the film something new and refreshing in the film world. My only one tiny criticism but not even a real one, is that I wanted to know more of how they ended up with Dick Van Dyke and some of the other points that Mrs. Travers was so adamant about not having.
I loved all of the subtle tributes to the film Mary Poppins with hints of character names like Uncle Albert, and the nod to the carousel, to more upfront acknowledgments like the songs and the sketches of the characters.
One of my favorite executed sequences was the “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” song scene. I like how the montage was edited cutting between the studio and presenting the song to Mr. Travers giving his bank speech at the fair. More than that I liked how you could see the hurt and possibly one of the low points in Mrs. Travers childhood. Though it is a sad scene, it is a scene that humanizes Mrs. Travers, seeing her at a very vulnerable moment, you can see the love she had of her father and perhaps some loose ends that she never tied up from her past.
True to Disney form, this movie has its sad moments but as always has a redeeming quality at the end that leave you feeling happy and filled with the magic of Disney.
After watching the film, I later read an article in The Richmond Times, written by Rebecca Keegan. One note that I found interesting in the article was that critics found that the film was “…too hard on Travers and too easy on the company’s founder.” My point is that yes, though Travers does seem to be a bit harsh and difficult, having a past and a childhood like that I can see why she would be that way. However, the article also mentions that the film is more about her and how her story became to be a film and not so much on Walt Disney. The article goes on to point out that, “A lot of children’s authors create these characters from places of tragedy and darkness,” a statement of which I would agree. Furthermore, I found it interesting that when presenting the script to Disney, the fear was that the Walt Disney character would be changed to be presented in “Disney light” as I will call it and that there would be so many rules to follow—Similar to a P.L. Travers you might say. Just goes to show that everyone is a critic in their own peculiar way.