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‘Saving Mr. Banks’ how Disney saved Mary Poppins for us all

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Saving Mr. Banks


As children all of us remember the first time we watched “Mary Poppins”. It has that magical quality to it, not because of flying furniture, or dancing penguins, but because of the tale it tells. Yet, the story that is laid out here, gives more clarity not only to who P.L. Travers was, but to how the story related to her life. This is not a trivial fable about children learning the meaning of kindness, or how to tidy themselves up, but truly it was the transformation of one person, their father Mr. Banks.
This film,is presented through a series of flashbacks. Yet, when we meet P.L. Travers, we see her not only as the dotty, fussy, prim and proper woman that she has become, but as the child that she was. Emma Thompson gives a tour de force performance as P.L. Travers, along with Tom Hanks, as Walt Disney. It should be noted that most adults have seen clips of Disney, so while Hanks does not look as much like Disney, he affects his voice and manner admirably. Paul Giamatti, her driver, is amazingly unflappable, sweet and subtle; Colin Farrell, as her father, shines. He is both a magical force within her life, and the desperate and sad man that he was. There are little glints into characters that are in the film and books such as Katie Nana, and even Mary Poppins herself who is not a ravishing beauty, but is the one strong and implacable person in her family. Ruth Wilson, her mother, is the stern parent, and then the one lost a drift as their world tumbles apart.
While Travers struggles with whether to allow Disney to make the movie, (she objects to everything from the use of animation, singing, to even using the color red) she is confronted time and again with her own inner demons. How this plays out and the stories that are told about fathers, both by Travers and Disney make for some amazingly real moments. When you see this movie it seems astounding "Mary Poppins" was ever made at all. This is a movie which delves into not only how movies are made, but the very real way in which they touch our lives.


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