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article imageReview: ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ reveals the magic behind the wonder Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 21, 2013 in Entertainment
‘Saving Mr. Banks’ recounts author P.L. Travers’ struggle with granting filmmaker Walt Disney the rights to adapt her novel, “Mary Poppins.”
Walt Disney started with the sketch of a mouse and went on to bring some of the world’s most beloved characters to the screen, beginning more than 75 years ago with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But for more than 20 years there was one story that evaded his magical touch. Saving Mr. Banks is an account of how in 1961 Disney earned the right to produce the Mary Poppins movie.
After decades of aggravation, P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) finally agrees to consider granting Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) the rights to adapt her beloved books into a film. Her terms are strict, but she gives him two weeks to convince her they will not ruin her work. Along with the Sherman Brothers (B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman), Mrs. Travers combs over the script nit-picking every detail and rejecting most of their ideas. But revisiting her characters is also drudging up childhood memories of her father and feelings she thought she left in the past.
Firstly, this is a heartfelt comedy. Mrs. Travers’ propriety is a frequent source of humour as she corrects people’s grammar, insists on proper etiquette and maintains she is “perfectly capable” of performing whatever task is at hand. When taking her seat on a plane next to a mother and a baby, she asks “Will the child be a nuisance for the entire flight?” She detests extravagance and everything for which Disney stands, appalled by the excessive gifts adorning her hotel room and large amounts food delivered to their workroom. Her feedback in most situations is incredibly entertaining as is the receiver’s bewilderment.
On the other hand, it’s a heart-breaking tale of disenchantment. Mrs. Travers, a.k.a. Ginty (Annie Rose Buckley), was daddy’s (Colin Farrell) little girl. He nurtured her imagination and indulged her every desire. However he also indulged in the drink and was becoming increasingly dependent. Though Mary Poppins is a wholly cheerful tale, it stems from mixed experiences. As Mrs. Travers expresses, “Mary Poppins and the Banks are my family.”
This picture is filled with some wonderful performances. Thompson is exceptional as the demanding author intent on preserving her material. Her distaste for animation and music is deadly comical since that is the essence of a Disney picture. Mrs. Travers develops an interesting relationship with her chauffeur played by Paul Giamatti. His relentless smile and merry demeanour irritates her, but eventually dissolves her prickly temperament. Hanks’ impersonation of Disney appears to be spot on, from his determination and confidence to his childlike enjoyment of his creations. Novak and Schwartzman expertly convey the mostly masked frustration the musicians must have experienced in their interactions with Mrs. Travers, but also their adoration for the material and dedication to making the picture a reality.
Fans of Mary Poppins will enjoy this extended behind-the-scenes featurette that explores the film’s origins and conception of its unforgettable soundtrack.
Director: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks and Annie Rose Buckley
More about Saving Mr Banks, Emma thompson, Tom hanks, Colin farrell, BJ Novak
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