I watched Mary Poppins at some point, but I really don’t remember much about it. The songs are stuck permanently in my head, because I had to learn them for a music program in grade school. It was actually pretty cool for a small rural school. We waved silk scarves during Let’s Go Fly a Kite and one poor girl got roped into dressing up like an old woman and scattering invisible crumbs as the lucky rest of us merely sang “…tuppence…tuppence…tuppence a bag…” Supercalifragilisticantspellit was a rousing success. So I couldn’t resist singing along with the poor songwriters trying to please Mrs. Travers.
Said Mrs. Travers was quite the character in Saving Mr. Banks. I found her difficult nature to be the only thing I didn’t like about the movie. Then again, that WAS the movie. And her rigid, obstinate reaction to a perfectly lovely adaptation in the making made her just as tragic as she was annoying. The counter story of her childhood in Australia, hazy bucolic scenes intercut with her shiny Hollywood misadventures, was my favorite part. Partly because it explained why she was the way she was, and partly because I loved the Australianness of it. It captured both the beauty and the harshness of the
outback, even as it captured the
beauty of her relationship with the failed drunken father she adored. Emma Thompson was excellent as a sad figure who eventually became a shining jewel of a person as Walt Disney slowly chipped away at the stone that she had become.
Tom Hanks was amazing. He totally disappeared into beloved Hollywood icon Walt Disney. As the movie portrayed
him (I say it like that because I don’t know anything about Walt Disney other than what I saw in Saving Mr. Banks), he was a shrewd businessman and someone who lived his life with an almost child-like joy. Who better than modern day beloved Hollywood icon Tom Hanks to portray such a character?
I watched this right after Winter’s Tale and again was struck by how talented Colin Farrell is. I was also impressed by the talent of the child actress playing the girl version of Mrs. Travers. It will be interesting to see what she’ll be doing a decade from now.
Saving Mr. Banks turned out to have much more depth than I’d anticipated. A dual period period movie, as well as a look into the adaptation process…with the book rights very much in limbo during that process. It’s also a strong lesson in how not to behave if you’re an author expected to make compromises in collaboration. The audio recordings of the real Mrs. Travers played during the end credits reinforce that lesson. Mrs.
Travers, as it turns out, needed saving every bit as much as her dear Mr. Banks. It just took Walt Disney’s intelligence and compassion to make her realize it.