In a line, Saving Mr Banks tells the story of Walt Disney trying to acquire the rights to turn the beloved book Mary Poppins into a movie. In reality, it’s so much more than that. Its 125 minutes of amazing acting, brilliant lines and heart breaking emotions. In my opinion, it’s one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.
The majority of the film is set in 1960s California, where after 20 years of chasing, Walt Disney flies Mrs Travers out to meet him in person and work on the motion picture of Mary Poppins. The only problem is that Disney doesn’t have the rights yet and Travers’ is reluctant to give them up. As she says, “Mary Poppins and the Banks, they’re family to me.”
Movie magic allows us to be transported back to the author’s childhood in a series of flashbacks showing where the inspiration for the nanny character came from. We bear witness to the downfall of the once doting dad and the effect it has on the family. This insight into her life packs quite the punch to the emotions, and if you’re anything like me you might need to watch the film with a box of tissues.
One of my favourite parts of the film is the friendship that develops between Mrs Travers and her driver, Ralph. Every time Ralph picks the author up to take her to the studio, her comments about the sunshine. At one point, Travers replies with “You say it as if you’re surprised, as if the sun were particular about for whom it appears. It seems you think I am responsible for its miraculous dawning every day. For heaven’s sake, its California … I’d so much rather be accountable for the rain.” I don’t want to spoil anything, but let me just say that the reason behind Ralph’s obsession with the weather is rather touching and Travers response had me welling up.
It could be argued that Disney has exaggerated some of the conversations to make themselves look better and missed out bits that didn’t fit with their happy ending, but overall the film is amazing. Some scenes are rather dark and although the age rating is Parental Guidance (at least for the UK), I don’t think it’s one for the under 13s.
For everyone else, I highly recommend it, so grab some popcorn and enjoy.