Saving Mr Banks has a deliberately deceptive title in that it’s not about saving Mr Banks, it’s more to do with remembering and recalling the existence of the author’s (P. L. Travers) Father played by Colin Farrell. The point of note here is that she takes her Fathers first name as the second name for her Nom De Plume or her pen name if you’d like. Mr Banks in the feature film ‘Mary Poppins’ is the literary incarnation of her real-life Father Travers Goff.
It’s a complex film and I started out questioning what was going on as I couldn’t understand the first 20 minutes. However this turns out to be deliberately the case as the story unravels and two sub-plots entwine themselves around the convoluted plot that comprises of a thread from the turn of the century in Australia and diverging off to the home of P L Travers in 1964.
Her Father Travers Robert Goff is a Bank Manager with a drinking problem. After years of alcohol abuse he contracts what I can only assume is tuberculosis. Later he passes away but not before the arrival of a new Nanny from Sydney. As a child Pamela is obviously intrigued by the arrival of the Nanny and this lays the foundation for the fictional Mrs Poppins. The life of Mary Poppins it seems is based upon the early life of the author.
The turbulent relationship between P. L. Travers and Walt Disney is central to this story and everything spins off from there. Living in abject fear that selling the rights of Mary Poppins to the money making press that is Walt Disney studios, Pamela travels to Los Angeles from London to oversee how Disney studio’s will be portraying her fictional creation in film.
Adamant from the very beginning that cartoons and animations are the creation of the devil. Travers convinces Walt Disney not to include any animated sequences or scenes into the screenplay which she insists on reading with the voice actors. This part of the film makes for painful yet funny viewing as she doesn’t understand the screenwriters vernacular.
Walt Disney is planning on inserting an animated sequence into the film and in doing so is forgoing the promise he has made to Pamela. When she discovers this duplicitous action she heads home to London only to be followed by Walt Disney himself on the next available flight. Arriving at her home he convinces her to trust him with her creation which she inevitably does. The film contains some very touching moment. Definitely on the Zavvi watch list.
The relationship between books and movies has always been plain to see since the inception of Film and the Silver-Screen but this is where the story really begins. Does the author stick to their guns and maintain creative control or do they allow the studio to take creative control? It’s always going to be a tough call but usually studios in general don’t take too much away from the original work. In some cases it can even augment the written works.
Starring Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Annie Rose Buckley, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Ralph Bradley and