Welcome to the 400th post! It’s taken six years and four months to get here.
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writer: Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith
Released: November 2013
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Colin Farrell
I think Saving Mr. Banks is a brilliant take on the Mary Poppins story. It’s not a remake or a sequel, it’s more of the ‘behind the scenes’ of the classic Mary Poppins story. It’s the story behind the story.
It follows Pamela Travers (Emma Thompson) who is approached by Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) himself regarding her children’s book series, Mary Poppins.
Walt Disney: Look at you! I could eat you up!
P.L. Travers: That wouldn’t be appropriate.
While we follow her reluctancy to give up the copyright, her guard is ever so slowly lowered as we begin to find out the root of her Poppins stories. They are in fact based on a lady who comes to look after young Travers and her siblings while her dad, ‘Mr. Banks’ (Colin Farrell) suffers alcoholism and slowly dies.
It comes to be that the Mary Poppins character in Travers’s childhood is a woman who isn’t there to save her or her siblings, but is there to try and save her beloved father. Hence why Travers is so reluctant to have her stories meddled with; she’s still coming to terms with the guilt.
Walt Disney: “No whimsy or sentiment!” says the woman who sends a flying nanny with a talking umbrella to save the children.
P.L. Travers: You think Mary Poppins is saving the children, Mr. Disney?
[Walt and the other filmmakers are stunned silent]
P.L. Travers: Oh, dear!
Throughout the melancholy scenes are the uplifting songs that Walt Disney’s composers are developing. The music that we associate with the 1964 Mary Poppins musical is reused to support Travers’s journey of trusting Walt Disney and their rocky working relationship.
Richard Sherman: Room here for everyone / Gather around / The constable’s “responstible!” / Now how does that sound?
P.L. Travers: No, no, no, no, no! “Responstible” is not a word!
Richard Sherman: We made it up.
P.L. Travers: Well, un-make it up.
Saving Mr Banks is an incredible story that simultaneously warms and breaks your heart. I was crying my eyes out through much of this film, especially the ‘let’s go fly a kite’ scene, holy Jesus. It brings a whole new meaning and depth to the Mary Poppins we have come to know.
Tom Hanks was the perfect choice to play Walt Disney. They both have an optimistic persona, while being untouchable American treasures.
I love this ‘prequel’ of sorts to the Julie Andrews musical. It’s entertaining and insightful, although perhaps a little dry in places, and a little too heavy in others.
Jodie’s rating: 6/10