For twenty years Walt Disney attempted to keep a promise he made to his daughters. His promise was to make the written story of Mary Poppins into a feature film. They loved this character and so Walt loved the character as well. Little did he know that when he made this promise he would have to convince P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, that he was the man to bring her beloved character to life. She had to sign the rights to Disney if he had any desire to make the film a reality. If it were any other author this might have been a sure thing, but Mrs. Travers, as she prefers to be addressed, was the most stubborn, stingy, and uptight person Disney would ever meet. But what appears to be nothing more than a woman simply set in her ways actually turns out to be a woman that has possessed this character since her childhood. She may not have written it until she was an adult, but the creation of the character emanated from past experiences that meant the world to her. To give this away was impossible to think of, but Disney certainly wasn’t a man used to hearing no.
This film really delved into the behind the scenes aspect of such a famous and beloved film. It wasn’t just, “let’s make a movie”, and the film was made; it was years and years of trial and error and an immense amount of patience to convince a woman to trust in others. Emma Thompson stars as P.L. Travers, who is a no nonsense kind of person but in her seriousness humor showed through… despite her best efforts. Walt Disney, played by the talented Tom Hanks, is a key part of this story of course, but the real focus is Mrs. Travers and what her life consisted of in a time gone by. She held the character in such high regard that no one was worthy of the rights, especially a man known for silly cartoons and a theme park with mice and dogs running around. She wanted a serious take on this story and Disney certainly wasn’t capable of this, although as time went on this proved to be less and less true.
One of my favorite parts of this film is this kind of theme of not judging a book by its cover. Both parties, Travers and Disney, each had preconceived ideas of one another. As time went on and they spent more time around one another they each realized that they were both wrong. She seemed uptight without reason and he seemed fake and money hungry and without a serious bone in his body. It is a serious look and dramatic look into a period of two weeks where the very fate of this not yet approved film was in limbo. Imagine if this cherished film had never come to be, that’s what was at stake here and Disney knew very well what magic hid in the pages of her book. A battle of patience and intelligence created for some wonderful moments to watch, whether it is a song she didn’t like or if the father in the book would have a mustache or not. It all had a purpose and was explained truthfully and with a real sense of class to it.
There are plenty of films to choose from this holiday season but not all are as lovingly crafted and handled with such enthusiasm as Saving Mr. Banks. Much like Mrs. Travers and her book, it is very obvious that someone loved this movie and made it with everything they had, and it shows through brilliantly. From its perfect casting, to its beautiful story, to its gorgeous cinematography – which includes an early 1960’s era California, this film is a real treat for the Disney fan or just any movie fan. This is quality film making and it was a real joy to experience.
Rated PG-13 For: thematic elements including some unsettling images
Run Time: 125 minutes
After Credits Scene: None, but there is an interesting sound clip played a minute or so into the credits.
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Colin Farrell
Directed By: John Lee Hancock
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 4.5/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls