movies_saving-mr-banks-posterWhat do our friends at IMDb think it’s about?

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.

What do I think it’s about?

Saving Mr Banks is about that of course but it’s also about how Hollywood works and how an author can’t really hope to keep control of her creation when it escapes into the wider world no matter how hard she tries. Oh and the culture clash between film and books.

Why did I want to see it?

I loved both the books and the Disney film of Mary Poppins even though they are rather different, something I could spot even as a youngster, and was aware that PL Travers did not like the movie at all and never reconciled herself to it. And I have always enjoyed films about film making.

What did I think?

I thought this was brilliant. The central performances were excellent; Emma Thompson was wonderful as always, capturing Travers’ prickliness and uncompromising nature, and Tom Hanks caught the the combined twinkliness and saving-mr-banks-bradley-whitfordruthless business mind of Disney. The flashbacks to Travers’ childhood were really well done and Colin Farrell was particularly good as her charming, feckless, drunken father. All of the minor characters are played by wonderfully talented well-known actors like Paul Giamatti and *sigh* Bradley Whitford. It was a very¬†touching story with a lot of wit and Hanks and Thompson played off each other very well.

What’s interesting is what wasn’t included, namely Travers’ adopted son who has been written out of the story presumably for dramatic effect and not because he was a bit inconvenient. If you want to know more about that side of her life then there was a very good documentary on the BBC by Victoria Coren Mitchell.

There has been a bit of a controversy (that might be too strong a word) about the whether the film soft soaps Travers’ reaction to the Mary Poppins film at the end; I am strongly of the view that they did no such thing and it’s quite clear (to me at any rate) why she is crying at the premiere. Because as she says, Mary Poppins hasn’t come to save the children; she’s come to save their father.

Conclusion

An acting masterclass and great fun with a sense of sadness at its core. I found it very moving in places. And it’s impossible to leave the cinema without singing some of the songs. Also I discovered that the Book God has never seen Mary Poppins all the way through and I have plans to remedy that soon (and an excuse to watch it again myself!)

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