Saving Mr. Banks

On New Years Day Barb and I went to see Saving Mr. Banks. It is a Disney movie which describes as:

Author P. L. Travers reflects on her difficult childhood while meeting with filmmaker Walt Disney during production for the adaptation of her novel, Mary Poppins.

That doesn’t begin to do the movie justice.

I never really cared for Mary Poppins. For one thing I almost never like musicals. And Mary Poppins just seemed to be a bunch of pointless skits strung together. But Barb and I saw a trailer for Saving Mr. Banks a few weeks ago and it looked like it might have some promise.

The major plot line of the movie was that Travers needs the money but is exceedingly reluctant to allow Disney to change her vision of the characters and story. She holds back on signing the rights while simultaneously “working” with the screenwriter and music composers. It’s a contentious relationship with Travers pitted against everyone she meets at Disney who do their best to understand her and accommodate her outrageous demands. The demands include changing the grammar of lines in the script which describe a scene and banning of the use of the color red in the entire movie.

Scenes from Travers childhood in Australia are intertwined with scenes from Disney Studios in 1961. As the exceedingly personal and troubling origins of the Mary Poppins characters are revealed Travers becomes more a sympathetic person rather than just a grumpy old lady. I sometimes thought the world would have been a better place if the adult version of Travers had been dropped off in the middle of the Outback and forgotten.

Even though you know how the essence of how the movie has to end it has a tremendous amount of stress as it reaches its climax and then resolves the conflicts.

Barb wasn’t affected nearly as much as I was, so it probably is something about my abnormal empathy for females, but I found it emotionally overwhelming and draining.

That said, it was a very good movie. I liked it much better than Mary Poppins.


2 thoughts on “Saving Mr. Banks

  1. I liked the movie enormously — then again, I rather liked the grown-up P. J. Travers. I admire curmudgeons.

    In second grade, our “big musical number” consisted of many of the songs from the Disney film version of Mary Poppins. At the time, I had a decent voice, loved to sing and enjoyed the songs. It gave the scenes in this film with those songs in them an eerie resonance, as I have very few direct memories of childhood.

  2. I can’t say I’ve ever seen Mary Poppins from beginning to end. Like you, I generally don’t enjoy musicals.

    But yeah, I enjoyed this movie very much. And like you, it left me drained. My wife was bored a little at the beginning, but the last 2/3 got to her, too.

    Somehow…I managed to get something caught in my eye during some of the Australia scenes…

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