This afternoon MT and I went to see Saving Mr. Banks. It's the story of how Walt Disney tried to convince Mrs. P.L. Travers to make a movie out of her book, Mary Poppins. The story in the film goes between the time that Mrs. Travers is in California, putting up all kinds of objections to the script and songs that would become the film and her life as a child in Australia and the effect that her adored father's alcoholism has on her.
Emma Thompson plays P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks is Walt Disney. They both do a fantastic job. Throughout the movie you think what a great guy Disney is and what a trying bitch Travers is. I'm sure the truth is somewhere in the middle. Disney could not have been the mogul that he was without some ruthlessness that we didn't see. The story only showed Travers' early life; from what we saw, I think it's safe to believe that her life continued to be difficult. Still, this is a Disney movie, so why wouldn't they show Walt as the sweetheart? (He probably really was a sweetheart.)
My favorite part of the film was Mrs. Travers and her driver, played by Paul Giamatti. He was great and they were wonderful together. I also loved the scene where she goes to Disneyland with Walt. Can you imagine?
Colin Farrell played the alcoholic dad. He was tragic and beautiful.
MT said that the movie was not at all what he expected. He thought the film was all right, but he said that in the future, when he is flipping through the TV channels and he sees that Saving Mr. Banks is playing, he wouldn't tune in to watch. I like the movie quite a lot. I wiped away tears pretty frequently. It isn't really a feel-good story. Yes, Mary Poppins did get made and it is a beloved Disney classic, but you can't help feeling that Mrs. Travers did not completely love the film version of her book, so there was still a little bit of a bitter taste at the end.
If you go, stay through the credits. There are some wonderful photos of the real Walt Disney and P.L. Travers at the premier of Mary Poppins. At the very very end is an actual tape of Mrs. Travers reading the script and giving notes with the script writer and the song writers. Nice touch.
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