"Mary Poppins and the Banks, they’re family to me."

by Nadin P.

So I hadn’t cried in a movie theatre for a while.
Like, a week.

And then Saving Mr. Banks happened, and I found myself sniffling and trying to swallow past the lump in my throat.

While I still struggle with the point of making Saving Mr. Banks and their not entirely correct portrayal of the story of P.L. Travers’s life and her relationship with Walt Disney, I’m not going to deny that I did find the movie absolutely adorable, if a little bittersweet. Even more so because, as a writer, I loved the idea of showing how much our work might mean to us – how much it does mean to us more often than not. Creating something is often akin to giving a birth, and from that moment on, we can’t help but being insanely overprotective of our pieces of art, whatever they are.
Showing the process from the viewpoint of a writer who doesn’t want to part with her creation but who also doesn’t really have a choice was almost painful, if only because I could understand with everything that I am how hard it was for her to even consider the idea of selling the rights for adaptation to Walt Disney despite the fact that it might be her only way to solve her financial issues.
The best part of the film, however, was the way it entwined the process of the book adaptation and the glimpses of the early life of P.L. Travers, back when she was known as Helen Goff, explaining why exactly her books were so important to her, why she couldn’t just let them go, and how – on so many levels – those books really were her family!
I absolutely enjoyed the dynamics between P.L. Travers and Walt Disney, and how they basically were the opposites that were meant to come in conflict with each other just about everything! And I did, I definitely did enjoy the performance of Emma Thompson (Travers) and Tom Hanks (Disney), and, frankly, everyone else involved in the film.
Although I guess it was the fact that the film chose not to stick to the actual events that I had the biggest problem with. Obviously, it was meant to be one of the sweet Disney-style films with the happily-ever-after and a cherry on top because that’s what Disney does. Because we’ve got enough of not-so-happily-ever-after on the news channel, which absolutely makes sense.
And yet… the real P.L.Travers and the real Walt Disney ended on rather bad terms – bad enough that she denied any involvement of the film production people in the later stage adaptation of Mary Poppins. Apparently, her absolutely hatred for animation wasn’t a joke!  She actually wasn’t invited to the premiere and to ask for Disney’s permission to attend it, and all things considered, their collaboration was rather disastrous.
Inaccuracies aside, however, I think that Saving Mr. Banks was one of the sweetest films I’ve seen in the past few years. Not only did it offer a fresh look on the relationship between the writer and the filmmaker, which was particularly intriguing for me as both prose- and screenwriter, but we also got a chance to see an entirely different portrayal of a heavy-drinking father and the reasons behind it, and the love that he actually felt for his family while the rest of the world seemed to be too much for him to deal with.
I didn’t expect to like this film as much as I did but it was fascinating and lovely to see the earlier life of Mrs. Travers, and how she became who she was, to really understand how deeply attached she was attached to her books and how heartbreaking it was for her to let Walt Disney into her world.
There is a story behind all of us, the secrets and scars and things that will be left untold. And yet it is important to remember that they do exist and that they make us who we are, and I think Saving Mr. Banks did a great job with making it the thematic statement of the film.
And you know what?

Don’t ever stop dreaming. You can be anyone you want to be.

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Four screenwriters candidly writing about film, television, novels, comic books, video games, and fanfiction.

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