Deep Thought

Peg and I spent a beautiful day at the movie house and saw a wonderful film, “Saving Mr. Banks.” The only Oscar nomination it has received is for Music. That is too bad because the story is true and heart warming. Unfortunately, not all heart warming films become Oscar nominated films.  The story covers the twenty year quest by Walt Disney to get the author of Mary Poppins to agree to let him make it into a movie. What I found most fascinating were the flashbacks into the author’s early childhood, and the influence her early life had on the characters in the story. In one scene Mrs. Travers arrives in Hollywood and stays at the Hollywood Inn Hotel. Disney sets her up with a suite and fills it with stuffed dolls of his cartoon characters and food baskets galore. She spots some pears in a basket and viciously throws them out of the window into the swimming pool below. In a much later flashback we learn that as a child she was happily bringing pears to her father when she learns of his death.

Emma Thompson plays the role of Pamela “P.L.” Travers a pseudonym for Helen Goth. Thompson portrays Mrs. Travers expertly and convincingly. She is a complicated woman who is very possessive and protective of the characters in Mary Poppins. We learn that she is so because she based many of them on people from her life. She feels the slightest Disney depiction away from her invention is character assassination.

Disney makes a heroic effort to convince Mrs. Travers to allow him to make the film, he promises her that he will not destroy her characters nor the context of the story. His motive for making the movie is a promise he made to his daughters. The promise is already twenty years old when this story takes place. I wonder if I would be so diligent as to spend twenty years trying to make good on a promise to my daughter. It takes a lot of persistence and doggedness to last that long.

The characters in this movie got into my head and now I want to read the book to get a deeper insight into all of them. So many times we are left to our own imagination to fill in scenes between the lines. For example, I learned by reading that Mrs. Travers’ father played by Colin Farrell died from alcoholism. The film did portray him as a drinker, but I wondered if it was an addiction or because he was using alcohol to kill pain from some other malady. Maybe that is just me, but I thought the film did not make that detail clear enough. Perhaps it isn’t even relevant to the story, but it left me wanting.

Throughout the story, Mrs. Travers maintains a cool unattached persona, but by the end she lets her hair down and befriends her driver Ralph played by Paul Giamatti. She actually let him call her Pam instead of the cold Mrs. Travers she demanded to that point.

Tom Hanks portrays Walt Disney and even though he isn’t a 100 percent carbon copy of the man in likeness he makes it work. By the end of the first few scenes I believed he was Walt Disney.

We enjoyed the story and discussed it over dinner and again over breakfast this morning. One major revelation came out of our discussion, Peg never saw Mary Poppins. When it came out her life and kids were beyond watching a film like Mary Poppins. Today, I will find a copy of the movie and we will watch it together. I give the film four stars.

One Response

  1. Grumpa Joe, My wife and I saw the film about 5 weeks ago and thought it was worthy of Oscar nominations for both Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, as well as best picture. A truly heart warming film.

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