Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Film Review - Saving Mr Banks

Fig.1 Saving Mr Banks (Movie Poster, 2013)
Saving Mr Banks, directed by John Lee Hancock, was released in 2013 and retells the story of author P.L. Travers and the making of Disney's movie adaptation of her book, Mary Poppins. Though the film is based around the making of Mary Poppins, the story is actually about Travers' father and how he influences her life and the character Mr Banks in the Mary Poppins story. Throughout the film we see flashbacks to her childhood and the relationship she had with her father Travers Goff, played by Colin Farrell. He is clearly a hero in the eyes of his daughter, Ginty and here we see where she came up with her pen name.

Fig.2 Ginty and her father, Travers Goff (Film Still, 2013)
Travers is portrayed magnificently by Emma Thompson as a tough cookie without compromise. As in true life, the movie shows how Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks) promised his young daughters that he would make a film of Mary Poppins as they loved the books so much. He asked Travers every year for 20 years for the rights to Mary Poppins and it was only when the author began to run out of money that she finally and reluctantly agreed. We see Travers' struggle as she flies to Los Angeles and is confronted by her worst expectations of America and Disney.

Fig.3 Arriving in Los Angeles (Film Still, 2013)

There are many amusing moments in the movie which show how in control Travers wanted to be with the film, insisting on no 'silly songs' and definitely 'no animation'. She asked for all rehearsals to be recorded and clearly had a lack of trust with Walt Disney and his team, which included the Sherman brothers (played by B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman). However as the film progresses we begin to see Travers soften, particularly when Walt Disney himself finds common ground with her relating to their haunting childhoods. We see in the film how Travers softens when she hears the Sherman brothers' rendition of the song 'Let's Go Fly a Kite'. Though the event really happened, it was actually the song 'Feed The Birds' which evoked a pivotal moment in the making of the film.

Fig.4 Rehearsals (Film Still, 2013)
Through the many flashbacks to her childhood, we can see where so much of Mary Poppins has come from, most notably when her Aunt Ellie arrives to help look after the young Ginty and her sisters. However, her father is clearly the main driver of her stories and imagination and we really feel for him and his young family when we see him fall into alcoholism. The film is very true to the real life accounts of the making of Mary Poppins. P.L. Travers was not a fan of Disney and the differences we see between the author and the Disney filmmakers actually occurred, including her aversion to the songs and animation. Most of the way her childhood is portrayed is also true to life, which makes the film all the more appealing. The fact that Disney have stuck so closely to Travers' real life when making Saving Mr Banks is very interesting, considering how much of Mary Poppins was not what the author had initially approved. One may be inclined to think that this is an apology to Travers for the many changes that were made during the adaptation of her story in the 1960s. Despite her objections to Disney's portrayal of Mary Poppins, the film made P.L. Travers a multi-millionaire and her stories have been opened up to many more audiences through the film being released.

Fig.5 Aunt Ellie (Film Still, 2013)

Illustration List:

Fig.1 - Saving Mr Banks (2013) [Movie Poster] At:,0,630,1200_AL_.jpg
(Accessed on 18.11.15)

Fig.2 - Ginty and her father, Travers Goff (2013) [Film Still] At:
(Accessed on 18.11.15)

Fig.3 - Arriving in Los Angeles (2013) [Film Still] At:
(Accessed on 18.11.15)

Fig.4 - Rehearsals (2013) [Film Still] At:
(Accessed on 18.11.15)

Fig.5 - Aunt Ellie (2013) [Film Still] At:
(Accessed on 18.11.15)

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