Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks.

So I'm finally getting around to writing this post. :) When I first watched Saving Mr. Banks, over a month ago now (maybe closer to two), I was so engrossed in it that I didn't jot down any notes for a blog post. It was the sort of movie that I knew I needed to watch again before I tried to figure out how I felt about it. I watched it again last week, so here are my very rambling thoughts.

From the very first time I heard about this movie, I figured it would be one that I would like. I'm a huge Disney fan, and I love the era of the 60s. I like the Mary Poppins film well enough, and I love the original book (I have the first three, but so far I've only read the first one). Saving Mr. Banks was, in one way, exactly what I was expecting, and in another way, a lot more. Because of all of the back story of P.L. Travers' life, I feel like this movie will appeal to more people that I expected it to. So many more people will appreciate this movie than just Disney fans.

This film is really beautiful. The cinematography is gorgeous and there are so many stunning shots. I love all of the little details, like the retro Disney logo at the beginning. I noticed so many more of the details (and more funny little lines) when I watched it for a second time.

The casting is also amazing. I'm an Emma Thompson fan...I've seen her in nearly ten movies so far and I love that she can play so many different roles. I loved watching her as P.L. Travers, who isn't the most likable character, especially at the beginning. But somehow Emma Thompson makes us sympathize with her. I also like Tom Hanks (how could I not, with You've Got Mail being one of my favorite movies?). I haven't read enough about Walt Disney as a person to know how accurately Tom Hanks played him, but from what I understand, they tried to make the role as realistic as possible. (I do own a thick Disney biography that I should probably read at some point...) This portrayal of Walt Disney makes me think of him as sort of a gentle bulldozer. Ha, if that makes sense. What I mean is: he was driven and got what he wanted, first by trying politeness. But if that didn't work, he could be firm. Like in the movie when he tricks Ms. Travers into going to Disneyland and then tries to get her to ride the carousel. First, he tries hinting around and persuasion, but finally he gets frustrated and says, "Get on the horse, Pamela."

It was nice seeing Ruth Wilson in something other than my favorite adaptation of Jane Eyre. :) I loved Paul Giamatti as Ralph, Ms. Travers' driver. Their friendship was one of my favorite aspects of the film. I guess Colin Farrell was good as the father, but honestly, I didn't have as much sympathy for him as I think the filmmakers wanted me to have. He was so cheerful and likable at the beginning (though there is foreshadowing with him drinking on the train ride), but he spirals downward so quickly. I had hard time feeling sorry for him...I just wanted him to man up and be a better father and husband.

The soundtrack was lovely...the mix of 60s-sounding stuff and pretty scores and versions of the songs from Mary Poppins worked really well together. And I have to say, while I really like the Mary Poppins film soundtrack, I wouldn't consider it an absolute favorite. There are a lot of Disney soundtracks that I like much better. But I loved the songs so much more in this casual format than I do in the MP film itself. I loved the scenes with the Sherman Brothers at the piano and the brainstorming sessions and even the one at night when Walt comes in and listens and sings. For so reason, the songs seemed so much more charming to me that way. (And I loved the guys who played the Sherman Brothers. I'm a bit fascinated with that songwriting duo, so I'm glad they had such a prominent part in this movie.)

I have mixed feelings about the historical accuracy of Saving Mr. Banks. Part of me wishes that it was more historically accurate. But of course, I am a sucker for happy endings. P.L. Travers is such a prickly person that I don't know if I could have handled her being that way through the entire film! I feel like we needed the happy ending and the turnaround in her opinion for us to truly enjoy this movie. the historical context, I do hate that Disney ignored her two conditions: no animation and no original songs (she wanted to use popular songs from the time period of her stories). I think it's a shame that authors have so little control over film adaptations of their work, whether we're talking modern Hollywood or 1960s Hollywood. Like I've said, I do like the Mary Poppins film, but I love the book so much more. It's charming and more subtle and I actually like the cross, slightly conceited, un-Disneyfied version of Mary Poppins. So even though I respect Walt Disney, I'm biased towards P.L. Travers' side of this debate.

My only other issue with the film was sometimes it felt like they overdid the father angle. I do think that Travers' back story adds a different layer to the movie. But at times, the flashbacks felt too heavy-handed. It was like they were trying to emphasize the connections between her childhood and present day, just case we didn't get it. The connections were pretty obvious, so it felt a little over the top.

One of my favorite scenes was when she goes into her hotel room to find it full of Disney memorabilia and stuffed animals. And when she puts the giant Mickey plushie in the corner- ha! :) I love that. And of course, being the sentimental sap that I am, I get all teary in the "Let's Go Fly a Kite" scene, just like the filmmakers wanted me to. That's also true of the red carpet premiere scene at the end.

I also love the credits, with the real photos behind the scenes of the Mary Poppins film and premiere. And I loved the snippet of audio from the real P.L. Travers! I liked seeing how they incorporated that into the film. I read that Emma Thompson listened to all of the original tapes in preparation for her role, which amounted to something like 39 hours of audio. Wow. (By the way, I think she compared the experience with being poked in the ear with a fork. Ha. :)

I did love Saving Mr. Banks, just like I thought I would. It's a fascinating peek into Disney history and overall just a really enjoyable movie. :)
Have you seen Saving Mr. Banks? Do you prefer the Mary Poppins film or book?


  1. Yay! How wonderful you saw and enjoyed this. Glad it met your expectations - I had a feeling you'd like it. :) And, I'd agree, the casting was just... wonderful. Emma, Tom, Ruth, Paul, everyone really made the movie shine and that (a good cast) is half the battle.

    1. It seemed like the sort of movie that I would love, so I'm glad I wasn't disappointed! :) And yes, the cast is amazing.

  2. I really liked this movie too. I've never read the book (or books?), but I definitely want to someday. :)

    1. Glad you liked it, too! I highly, highly recommend reading at least the first Mary Poppins book. It's charming in the way that only English children's literature can be, if you know what I mean. :) I think there are six or seven books, maybe even more? Like I said, I own the first three but I've only actually read the first one so far.

  3. I saw it recently, too. To be perfectly honest, I was pretty upset that Tom Hanks was playing Disney (b/c I always see "Tom Hanks" the actor in most of his films, and not the character). He didn't feel or look like Disney at all to me, but I definitely noticed a few of those Disney mannerisms present. The man did his research, so that helped a lot. (I loved the scene where he was at her house, talking about his childhood).

    I knew that Travers was a really gruff individual, so I really liked that the movie portrayed a softer/less gruff side to her at times. (I thought Emma did a FANTASTIC job in this role, by the way). I also really enjoyed her dry sense of humor and her relationship with the driver. (Loved what she wrote in his daughter's book).

    I loved Colin Ferrel in this, but I totally get what you're saying about the connections. It was a little overdone nearer the end.. perhaps even the middle... of the movie.

    It was a better movie than I expected it to be. I've watched it twice already. I think my favorite scene from the entire flick was the premiere.

    1. It seems like Tom Hanks did do his research. Apparently, he was adamant that it be obvious that Disney smoked, even though the company didn't really want any cigarettes in the film. I like how they slipped it in in a subtle way. I also love Travers' dry sense of humor. :)

  4. Saving Mr. Banks" is a cinematic gem. The film's portrayal of P.L. Travers and the creation of Mary Poppins is both touching and insightful. Lag In Gaming Exceptional performances and a heartfelt narrative make it a must-watch for anyone.


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