Saving Mr Banks
For a woman who has a principled opposition to made up words, Mrs Travers certainly knows how to rewrite reality.
Saving Mr Banks poignantly centres upon the life of Mary Poppins author Travers (“It’s Mrs Travers, thank you”). It shifts between her childhood in Australia and the two weeks she spends in Los Angeles determinedly resisting signing away the film rights to her novel to Walt Disney (an ever-captivating Hanks).
Emma Thompson gives a simultaneously touching and amusing performance as Travers, combining comical old-fashioned English propriety with tender emotional depth. The contrast between the clear-cut filming during the scenes set in Los Angeles and the soft, sweeping shots of her childhood highlight the lack of understanding that she feels Disney has with her sacred characters: “They’re like family,” she insists. It slowly becomes clear just how true this is, as her back story unfolds and her reluctance to sign away what is evidently a sentimentalised version of her childhood begins to make more sense.
The fictionalised back story of Travers’ childhood is loosely based on the reality the film is carved from. It’s not known to what extent her alcoholic father inspired the character of Mr Banks, but the way it’s presented here is enough to bring tears to the eyes. The bond between father and daughter, his subsequent physical and mental demise and the fraught emotion that Thompson brings to the adult daughter as she reminisces definitely have the emotional effect intended.
In typical Disney style, the film ends on a high. Mr Banks is, of course, saved – the implication being that the past trauma is laid to rest as Travers is finally enticed by the screenwriters and dances in the boardroom to Let’s Go Fly a Kite. A Disney film with more emotional and realistic depth than may be expected, Saving Mr Banks ticks all the boxes for a satisfying watch.
Saving Mr Banks is released in the UK on 29th November 2013.
Watch the trailer for Saving Mr Banks here: