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Saving Mr. Banks
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Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson bring to life the untold true story about the origins of one of the most treasured Disney classics of all time. John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) directs this acclaimed film that reveals the surprising backstory behind the making of Mary Poppins.
Determined to fulfill a promise to his daughters, Walt Disney (Hanks) tries for 20 years to obtain the rights to author P. L. Travers’ (Thompson) beloved book. Armed with his iconic creative vision, Walt pulls out all the stops, but the uncompromising Travers won’t budge. Only when he reaches into his own complicated childhood does Walt discover the truth about the ghosts that haunt Travers, and together, they set “Mary Poppins” free.
Saving Mr. Banks is a fascinating look at the circuitous "collaborative" process Walt Disney, his creative team, and author P.L. Travers engaged in in bringing the character Mary Poppins to life on the big screen in the early 1960s. This touching, funny film is really two stories nicely tied up in one appealing package. The first story is of P.L. Travers's childhood in Australia in the early 1900s. This story starts out idyllically enough, emphasizing her father's immense love for his children and his uncanny ability to make everything fun and exciting, but it's one that has a darker side that ends up shaping the adult that Travers eventually becomes. The other story is of the adult P.L. Travers. A proper Englishwoman completely set in her ways, she grudgingly embarks on a trip from England to Los Angeles to discuss the possibility of turning her highly successful book Mary Poppins into a Disney motion picture. Walt Disney has a vested personal interest in the project, but Travers and the Disney team clash on virtually every level and their interactions run the gamut from perplexing to infuriating and downright funny. The juxtaposition of the two stories is quite masterful, with the stories continually intertwining and each shedding light on the other to create a cohesive film that is highly engaging and emotionally poignant. The casting of Tom Hanks as Disney and Emma Thompson as Travers is inspired: they are absolutely perfect in their roles. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this film is that Saving Mr. Banks creates a whole new perspective from which to view the beloved original Mary Poppins. (Ages 10 and older) --Tami Horiuchi
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Saving Mr. Banks is a dual narrative portrait of the author of Mary Poppins and the creative team at Walt Disney that worked to bring it to the big screen. In one thread (1961) we have the curmudgeonly author behaving like a stark raving... well, curmudgeon as she tries to exert control over the creative process. In the other thread (1906, Australia) we unwind the story of her grim childhood that makes her a curmudgeon in the first place.
This movie has a lot of things to say not the least of which is to cast an entirely different light that beloved American classic of childhood. Mary Poppins ain't quite what you think it's about as a kid (but then what good movie IS what you think it's about when you're a kid). It's also a powerful demonstration of how our childhood influences us as adults sometimes in ways that we don't quite grasp until we look back on them from a great distance.
It's also interesting to see behind the curtain of the creative process. Avoiding spoilers, the author's primary objection is that Mary Poppins and the Banks family have become, in truth, her family over the years and sharing that vision and letting someone else have a piece of them is frightfully difficult. It does make a person wonder if all authors have this same struggle when crossing mediums.
Lastly, I'm a sucker for sentiment but this movie had the audience blowing its nose and audibly sniffing for a good hour. It's an incredibly intimate portrait. However, the kids won't think much of it and the group in the theatre with me was 50+ for the most part. All that said, highly recommended for anyone with a sentimental streak. Best movie I've seen in a month or more.
Oh, and the patient who sit through the credits will be treated to some photos from the movie's production and a section of the recorded conversations between the author and the production cast.
PS: It is always my endeavor to provide helpful reviews. If you find my review helpful then I'm glad! If you do not, then please leave me a comment indicating what you want to know and I'll be sure to do better next time.
The film is told in flashbacks from 1908 to around 1961 to Beverly Hills to the outback of Travers' childhood and the gut-wrenching moments centering upon her father played by Colin Farell. Viewers may presume by the end of the film that the inspiration of Mary Poppins originated from Travers's life and Mr. Banks, a tinge of her father's tease that she remembered when he would shave. Aside from the ironic moments of the film, there are the humorous and tongue in cheek ones of playfulness and sentimental journeys through the songs of Mary Poppins, "A Spoon full of Sugar," recreations of the innocent time period with the nostalgic costumes and props dating back to the early 1960s, especially a trip that Travers was forced to take to Disneyland five years after its opening. Since this was Tom Hanks' production he adds the authenticity to a tee from Disney's suit to his office.
Saving Mr. Banks can be described with many enchanting descriptions because of how it associates with the most revered and creative geniuses in popular culture. Like a Disney film but with a back story, or more so two stories and films in one, do not be surprise if the concluding scenes will tug at the heart strings or have one grabbing for a tissue.
It is a pleasure to see a wonderfully written, cast, and filmed story set in the studio during some of its golden years. Happily, the depiction of the early 1960's opts for accuracy, not caricature. Tom Hanks underplays Walt in this movie and his screen time is too short. However, what we do get to see is a joy.
Emma Thompson surely deserved an Academy Award for her role as Mrs. Travers. All the other characters on the screen become her foils. At first viewing, the story seems simple, but beneath the surface is a great deal of subtlety and irony. Much is conveyed non-verbally, both in the flashbacks and 60's scenes.
The screenwriters use their best devices to justify, humanize, and sympathize Mrs. Travers. But viewers who live on a day to day basis with a man or woman with an attitude like P.L. Travers in the next cubicle may squirm in their seats.
How does one respond to the triumphs and tragedies of one's own life? Many of us know persons of limited means who are gracious, while others who receive great opportunities choose to be negative. This story fascinates not because it is unique, but because of its eternal relevance.