This is a gentle and touching story told with a poignancy which is sometimes heart-breaking. Emma Thompson is superb as the author PL Travers, a stranger in a strange land (California) still coming to terms with her challenging childhood while Tom Hanks's avuncular performance as Walt Disney is masterful as he slowly breaks down Travers' objection to his Disneyfication of her Mary Poppins stories. There are some delightful comedic moments and the scenes in the rehearsal room are really hilarious. However, the scenes relating to Travers's childhood in rural Australia are filled with pathos and it is these moments which give the film a remarkable depth and sadness. This is definitely a film which does live up to the hype.
on 19 April 2014
This is a lovely film, crass, brash Americana meets post-colonial stiff-upper-lippiness! Tom Hanks does a great job of playing a kindly Uncle Disney version of the eponymous Walt, all paternalism and Apple Pie but Emma Thompson is the total show-steeler with her rendition of the psychologically damaged, ice-maiden that's PL Travers.
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)
on 6 December 2013
Walt Disney's daughters begged him to make a movie of their favourite book, P.L. Travers' "Mary Poppins," so he promised them he would.
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.
on 7 March 2014
I remember when I went to the cinema to watch this when it first came out; I was absolutely blown away by it, Tom Hanks pulled of an amazing performance as well as Emma Thompson. Not enough credit has been given to this film which is such a shame. I highly recommend this,
on 3 January 2014
As always, no spoilers whatsoever in this review because that's just plain inconsiderate.
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.
Wonderful performances from Emma Thompson - superb as P.L. Travers who wrote Mary Poppins - and Tom Hanks, who never disappoints, raise this film above the average. It could have been a rather boring account of the stand-off between Travers and Disney over the details of creating a film of Mary Poppins, but instead the interaction between the two characters is fiery, feisty, compelling, and compassionate. The gradual thawing of Travers's implacable opposition to 'trivialising' her beloved heroine through Disney's patient wooing of this difficult personage is a small masterpiece of acting and delicate balance between the two protagonists.
The back story of Travers's own troubled upbringing in Australia, her devotion to her wayward, alcoholic father (Colin Farrell), her despairing mother (played beautifully by the lovely Ruth Wilson) provides interesting contrast and enlightens the viewer into Travers's reasons for developing her 'difficult' persona, as well as revealing the truth behind the creation of one of Disney's best loved characters.
Well-produced, leisurely paced, comfortably portrayed, with pertinent clips from the the actual film of Mary Poppins, and excellent back-up from the supporting cast, this is a properly professional adult movie without sentimentality, with dignity and grace and everyone 'scrubs up well'. All in all, a much more satisfying film than I expected, and all credit to the marvellous Emma Thompson and perpetually talented Tom Hanks. A great film for all the family especially anyone who loves Mary Poppins.
on 31 August 2014
This really was a stunning performanceby Emma Thompson as PL Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, who tries to be persuaded by Walt Disney (a convincing Tom Hanks) to sign the film rights of her book to him so that the musical may be made. As an opponent of musicals, Dick Van Dyke and in particular animation, this requires a lot of effort. Disney is using every trick he can muster in order to get that signature.
The film reminds me of 'Titanic' in that we know the ending, but enjoy the performances as we go towards it. The sequences of Travers' early life in Australia were somewhat of an intrusion, but necessary when Disney uses this to remind Travers of her father. Colin Farrell is not my favourite actor, but was passable in this.
Hanks' portrayal of Disney made him come across as a rather unscrupulous character. Was there any truth in what Disney said? He could have been saying anything in order to get that signature. I found myself very much on Travers' side, wanting her not to sign, although we knew the inevitable.
'Saving Mr Banks' is a movie well worth seeing for the performances of the two leads. I think it might have been even better had it not been made by the Disney studios, and instead a neutral one. It is well known that PL Travers despised the finished production of 'Mary Poppins' and continued this view right until her death. The movie glossed over this; this was a major mistake and gave the impression that it was a fictional story loosely based on real events.
on 1 May 2014
I bought this for my (elderly) Mum for her birthday as I thought she would really love the subject matter (having loved Mary Poppins although I can't remember the film very well and maybe need to see it again) and as it stars Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. The story is fantastic - this cankerous, interfering (slightly stupid) woman who is unable to see the merits of the efforts of those who trying to make a film of her book. This brings her right into contact with Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks as a kindly man with a very warm heart. She also meets the composers who struggle to impress her with their wonderful tunes and ideas. It is hard not to want to shake the woman for her rudeness and her lack of any understanding - and her extreme coldness. But her relationship with her driver and her flashbacks to her childhood (her father played by the delicious Colin Farrell) show a tender side to the character which redeemed her somewhat although really I still wanted to slap her for most of the time. It's slow and seems to need 'something' else - a little more Tom Hanks? More of the 'warmed up' Emma Thompson (so superb when she 'gets' the song about kite flying, 'Let's Go Fly A Kite')? Or a greater hold on the scene where she finally gets to see the finished film ...?/ Her scenes with Disney/Tom Hanks are sheer joy (especially when he takes her to Disney Land at the scene where he finally persuades her to sign the contract) and somehow we don't get enough of them - or maybe they are greater for being lesser?
This is very much a character led film rather than story led which is what I prefer although it has to try far harder when it relies on simply on great acting.
For those who hung around until the titles (I do hate it when people leave cinemas when the titles are running) - would be rewarded by hearing the genuine tapes of the conversations recorded at the start and can hear just how annoyingly pedantic she was. I gather there is one living author who created a similar type 'control' when her books where filmed but it is just rumour and I can't say who it was!
We'd just watched 'Quartet' the week before and loved it so much that this film fell by one mark. Good, very good, but not great.
Two of the names that get my attention, the magic of childhood movie-making
'Walt Disney' and one of todays finest actors 'Tom Hanks'
The film is the true story of how the film 'Mary Poppins' came about.
The author 'P.L.Travers' (Emma Thompson) is down on her uppers, she's almost
broke, she's not written a book for some time, the royalties are no longer paying
for her life-style.
'Walt Disney' (Tom Hanks) wants to adapt her book 'Mary Poppins' into a movie,
to do so he has to have her permission to go ahead.
She takes a flight to L.A to reluctantly discuss his proposals, on arrival her hotel
room is stacked out with Disney Characters (toys and puppets).with the courtesy
of 'Walt'.............She is not amused.
'Walt' has pursued his dream to turn the book into a film for twenty years having
promised his then young daughter he would do so.
'Pamela' has agreed to listen to the proposals 'Walt' and his team have though
she is in no mood to make compromises, and will not be easily impressed.
Every thing suggested early on is rejected out of hand by 'Pamela' she even has
a thing about the colour 'red' and will not discuss any form of animation.
'Walt' and his team become frustrated as every idea is knocked back, the situation
looks seemingly impossible, but 'Walt' isn't about to give up, he wants her signature
on the contract.
'Pamela' apparently like 'Walt' have ghosts from the past, she often reflects on events
that shaped her life during childhood, yet, it had inspired her in the writing of the book
'Walt' has to find a way to understand the lady to achieve his ambition with her blessing
to go ahead and create the story they both want.
There are many amusing confrontations between 'Walt' and his team with 'Pamela'
The film, sometimes very funny, often touching and deeply moving, a tale that will
almost certainly draw you in whether you like the film 'Mary Poppins' or not, the film
which is 'the making of 'Mary Poppins' is quite simply ....a must see.
A DELIGHTFUL FILM.
Great performances throughout with superb picture and sound quality.
* Deleted Scenes - 'Stargaze' - 'Nanny Song' - 'Pam leaves'
* Behind the scenes - 'The Disney studios-from 'Mary Poppins' to present.
* Behind the scenes: - Let's Go Fly a Kite.
I had wanted to go and see this film at the cinema but never got round to it. I love anything Disney (with the exception of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but that's a whole other story...) so I was excited by this. The back story of one of the most famous Disney films ever - Mary Poppins - plus two of my favourite actors - what's not to like?
The film tells the story of P.L.Travers, the author of Mary Poppin's and how her ideas don't tie up with the show business of Mr Walt Disney. There is the current day story of Travers travelling to LA to have input on the film and her back story, which is actually very sad and emotional.
Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are absolutely fantastic. No two actors could have played these parts ever. Emma should be recognised for her work in this - she is so good. Tom also plays Disney exactly as I would imagine him.
I imagine there has been a huge amount of research in this and I feel I have learnt a lot about the story. I, for one, never realised how close to Travers' own life Mary Poppins actually is. We also get a glimpse into Walt Disney's story and it is just as interesting.
This is easily one of my favourite films and I urge you to watch it. I really look forward to reading more about Travers now and reading the Mary Poppins books. I would be amazed if you don't feel the same after seeing this film!