I loved watching Mary Poppins when I was a little girl. I grew up watching all the Disney movies but this one was special. If you’ve ever seen Mary Poppins, you know exactly what I mean. I guess I always thought Mary Poppins was just another one of Mr. Disney’s brilliant ideas that made it onto the big screen. Little did I know! When I heard Saving Mr. Banks was a movie about the untold backstory of how the movie Mary Poppins came to be, I was thrilled.
The book Mary Poppins, written by P.L Travers was one of Walt Disney’s daughters’ favourite bedtime stories. They begged their dad to make a movie about their beloved heroine and their loving father promised he would. He never realized how difficult a task that would prove to be. It took Walt Disney 20 years before was able to fulfill that promise.
The fussy P.L Travers (played by Emma Thompson) had complete disdain for everything Disney stood for. She did not want her respectable Mary Poppins turned into one of Walt Disney’s silly singing and dancing cartoon characters. She ignored his requests to buy the rights to Mary Poppins for years.
After book sales slowed down and she realized she could not longer financially refuse, she relented with the caveat she got to be involved with the decisions and movie making process. I don’t think Mr. Disney knew what he was in for. Some trivia for you, this was the first time Walt Disney has ever been played in a movie and Tom Hanks was spectacular.
Travers had seemingly impossible expectations and was perpetually displeased with all the ideas put forward during the planning stages. It seemed like she was trying to boycott the film making process altogether with her demands. During her stay in Los Angeles, she kept having flashbacks to her troubled childhood in the Australian outback and we discover Mr. Banks’ character in her book is based on her father. Once Mr. Disney realizes the significance of her story, he promises to help redeem the memory of her father. Finally Travers felt she could trust Disney with her story. They made some compromises and ultimately produced Mary Poppins.
Saving Mr. Banks proved to be a delightfully heart-warming movie where I found myself laughing through tears between scenes. The movie does have a rating of PG-13 because of some unsettling scenes from the author’s childhood which might be better suited for the older set.