Saving Mr. Banks
I can understand why authors are very protective of their works and characters. To write a good story, one must fully understand who their characters are. Why does Jay Gatsby hold his parties? Why does little Matilda love going to school? Why is Charlotte committed to saving Wilber the pig? All of these characters have long backstories that explain their motivation and how their relationship works with others. A lot of authors will have built up their characters so well that they’ve become close friends. So if someone calls to say that they want to put their own interpretation on the subject, it can become quite frightening to imagine someone else working on it.
This probably makes it a convenience that most of the writers of the fairy tales that Walt Disney Pictures has produced have long passed on. The company doesn’t have to worry about people from estates trying to but in into areas where they have no experience. For the most part, they wouldn’t have needed the authors anyway; the movies comes out fantastic. Not all of them are a home run, but Disney has built up it’s reputation enough to make anyone trusting enough to let the studio produce their work. Well…almost everyone; Walt Disney does everything he can to please P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks.
Did you know that Mary Poppins had a really troubling production? Let’s take it back before this. Pamela Travers (played by Emma Thompson) was the author of the successful Mary Poppins books. Though they have made her a wealthy woman, her funds are starting to run low, due to her stubborn decision to not write more. She had declined many opportunities to make to the movies with Walt Disney who had wanted the rights since the thirties. In 1961, she finally takes up on the offer to go to Los Angeles to discuss the possibility.
Though she’s greeted with a nice driver Ralph (played by Paul Giamatti), sent numerous Disney related gifts, and a promise from Walt (played by Tom Hanks) that the story will be handled well, she’s still reluctant to proceed. She finally gives in on the condition that she has final say. Her meetings with the other script writer and musicians Sherman brothers (played by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak) don’t go too well as she seems to say no to everything. As Walt tries everything he can to make her happy, Miss. Travers constantly remembers her days growing up in Australia, and how her relationship with her father (played by Colin Farrell) became the inspiration for the stories.
This is not a movie about Walt Disney. This is a story on P.L. Travers. And just because the Disney Company produced the movie doesn’t mean that they will be sugar coating it. This is an honest story on how her unruly attitude had not only made the production on Mary Poppins tough, but had also cost her a chance at having a close family. Emma Thompson nails the part in every direction, making it harder on everyone else to live up to her.
Luckily, the rest of the cast does just as well. Tom Hanks again pulls another great performance as Walt Disney, making him gentle, but a hard worker. Both Schwartzman and Novak are great as musicians who are probably the best in the industry. Even Colin Farrell shows a lot of emotion as P.L. Travers father. The story is edited in a brilliant fashion as Saving Mr. Banks uses the songs from Mary Poppins to cut to the authors past life. This is a true experience that will make you laugh, tear, and ultimately smile.
I’ll give this five spoonful’s of sugar out of five. Saving Mr. Banks is a perfect movie about a relationship between two artistic geniuses. If you have any interest in the Disney Company, Mary Poppins, or simply how literature becomes adapted into film, this is something that you need to see.