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Saving Mr Banks [DVD]
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Two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar winner Tom Hanks star in Disney's SAVING MR. BANKS, inspired by the extraordinary untold tale of how one of the most beloved stories of all time, Mary Poppins, was brought to the big screen. The film is a poignant, sharply funny and moving recounting of Walt Disney's (Tom Hanks) quest to fulfil a promise to his daughters to make a film of their favourite book, and of its fiercely protective author PL Travers (Emma Thompson), who had no intention of letting her beloved nanny go to Hollywood. SAVING MR. BANKS follows Walt as he has to pull out all the stops to change PL Travers’ mind and is ultimately forced to reach back into his own childhood to discover the truth about the ghosts that haunt her. Together they set Mary Poppins free to become one of the most endearing films in cinematic history. Academy Award winner Paul Giamatti, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson and Jason Schwartzman round out the terrific cast.
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In his quest to obtain the rights, he comes up against a writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved creation get ruined by Hollywood. But, as the money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to meet and hear Disney's plans for the adaptation.
Walt pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and songs, he launches an onslaught on P.L. Travers, but she doesn't budge.
But Walt discovers the truth about Mary Poppins, and together they set her free.....
Brilliant is one word to describe this movie, and it's all thanks to Thompson. Her portrayal of Travers is wonderfully complex. At once, you see a meddling Battleaxe, but at the same time, you see a child begging to come to the surface, and you cannot help but like her, despite her little outbursts.
Hanks knows he's not going to outshine Thompson, so he is wonderfully restraint as the big man, and it's to his credit, he's a joy to watch too.
Its funny and equally heartbreaking in parts, and the best parts of the film are set in Austrailia, these set the foundations of the narrative, and really add gravitas to the Disney scenes, honestly, this is Farrell's career best performance, even if he does seem to be channelling Johnny Depp on occasion.
If you are a fan of Mary Poppins, this is a must, and if your not, it's still a fascinating insight into one woman's love of her work, and how much it means to her.
Saving Mr. Banks is a dual narrative portrait of the author of Mary Poppins and the creative team at Walt Disney that worked to bring it to the big screen. In one thread (1961) we have the curmudgeonly author behaving like a stark raving... well, curmudgeon as she tries to exert control over the creative process. In the other thread (1906, Australia) we unwind the story of her grim childhood that makes her a curmudgeon in the first place.
This movie has a lot of things to say not the least of which is to cast an entirely different light that beloved American classic of childhood. Mary Poppins ain't quite what you think it's about as a kid (but then what good movie IS what you think it's about when you're a kid). It's also a powerful demonstration of how our childhood influences us as adults sometimes in ways that we don't quite grasp until we look back on them from a great distance.
It's also interesting to see behind the curtain of the creative process. Avoiding spoilers, the author's primary objection is that Mary Poppins and the Banks family have become, in truth, her family over the years and sharing that vision and letting someone else have a piece of them is frightfully difficult. It does make a person wonder if all authors have this same struggle when crossing mediums.
Lastly, I'm a sucker for sentiment but this movie had the audience blowing its nose and audibly sniffing for a good hour. It's an incredibly intimate portrait. However, the kids won't think much of it and the group in the theatre with me was 50+ for the most part. All that said, highly recommended for anyone with a sentimental streak. Best movie I've seen in a month or more.
PS: The patient who sit through the credits will be treated to some photos from the movie's production and a section of the recorded conversations between the author and the production cast.
Through flash-backs PL Travers early life traumas are spilt for us delicately, stitching together a picture that sees the slow destruction of the deified figure of her father into the alcoholic shadow he became. We see him fail, repeatedly, we see these events impact on her mother all the while in the present of our story, 1960s America, we see Walt Disney and writers of the motion picture screenplay for Mary Poppins trying to melt PL Travers icy heart. She needs to sign the rights over so the movie can be made and she is extremely sniffy about some of the frivolous directions they seem to have taken her character.
This is a quality movie, gentle, thought-provoking and effectively braiding its stories set in different timelines neatly and completely in a way that was very satisfying. We all know that PL Travers relented and Mary Poppins got the Disney treatment and in one of the most touching moments in the film we see Emma Thompson's character crying buckets as the bank manager dad returns at the end to sing and dance enthusiastically ready for kite-flying. The epitomy of fatherliness and good times absent from her own upbringing and the antithesis of her own dad's ignominious ending. Of course, truth and biography have been tweaked here to make a more complete story I'm sure, but it has been done in such a loving and respectful way that both Disney and PL Travers emerge as sympathetic figures.
Well worth a couple of hours of your time.
**** (Four stars)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great film, brings back memories of my youth when first saw Mary Poppins.Published 2 days ago by Colin
An excellent idea for a new film. How to turn an author's best selling novel into a film musical
called "Mary Poppins". Only Walt Disney could achieve this. Read more