Monday, January 6, 2014

Movie Monday: SAVING MR. BANKS

Confession: as a young reader, I never thought at all about the author of the books I loved -- those  stories were mine and to think of them being written by anyone never occurred to me. It's only as an adult author myself that I've become curious about other authors.

Which is why I knew I wanted to see SAVING MR. BANKS. I mean, P.L. Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins... clearly an imaginative woman, yes? AND. For me, there's the whole Disney connection: in case you didn't know, I was born the year Walt Disney World opened in Orlando. I went to Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades in central Florida, just outside Mickey's magical domain. For my 6th birthday, I had a Cinderella cake and got to visit Disney World for the very first time. During college, I worked as a booking agent at Walt Disney Travel Company and earned a "Mouster's Degree" through the WD College Program. (I could have earned a "Ducktorate" but, ahem, I was maybe more interested in some less Disneyfied pursuits at the time....) I think Walt Disney was a pretty amazing guy. And guess what? I loved the movie.

Maybe it isn't an accurate picture of P.L. Travers OR Walt Disney. I don't know. But I was touched by the story. It kind of reminded me of DRIVING MISS DAISY, what with the whole grumpy old lady being driven about by Mr. Brightside chauffeur. I loved how their relationship grew and developed, how a true friendship emerged. I felt tremendous compassion for the way Mrs. Travers' father was depicted... he was an alcoholic, brilliant and imaginative, but unable to control his addiction. What a toll this takes on a family, and how confusing for a daughter who admires her father one day and hates him the next. And all the more reason to value and cherish one Mary Poppins.

My favorite quote in the movie is courtesy of Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, on the power of story, the reason we NEED fiction:

“It’s what we storytellers do: We restore order with imagination.’’

And maybe Disney never actually said that, and maybe the film portrays its characters inaccurately, and maybe the criticism is deserved that this is a sugary, self-serving film. Who cares? I still enjoyed the heck out of it.


  1. I didn't know you went to school in Orlando! I used to teach at Southwest Middle and later helped open Chain of Lakes Middle. Both were very close to Universal Studios.

    Though I haven't seen the movie, I'm curious about it. I first knew Mary Poppins through the books and was kind of shocked to meet her as the sweet movie character. Is this huge difference ever covered in the movie?

  2. Dear Caroline, crazy the geography we have in common!! I do hope you'll see the movie. The movie DID include scenes with the aunt who inspired the Mary Poppins character, and aside from some dialogue tags that show up in the book/movie (and may or may not be actual), she was portrayed as a much MUCH sterner character than the Disney MP. The aunt cleaned up that family and provided structure after the alcoholism-induced insanity. I'd love to hear your take on it. xo

  3. I'm glad you got to see it. I had your same reaction. Yes, there's clearly some distance between the real life and that portrayed, but there was a moving emotional honesty about a creator and her childhood.


Your thoughts?