Saving Mr. Banks, Movie Media Screening was held in the Animation Building at the Walt Disney Studios. Walking through the halls, I was so excited to see the beautiful pictures decorating the walls. From Snow White to Frozen, there was art representing every movie ever made. The sheer beauty of these works literally took my breath away. Continuing through the building, I was surrounded by this feeling of awe. This was where Walt Disney and so many greats walked the halls and created magic.
Upon entering Animation Room 11, I learned that it was Walt Disney’s private screening room. The screening room was intimate and a perfect setting for this movie. As Mary Poppins was my first Disney movie and personal favorite, I was a bit apprehensive while waiting for it to start. The reviews have all been excellent and starred Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P.L Travers. However, I was feeling slightly anxious. This was a dramatic story, focusing on Walt Disney’s 20 year pursuit for the rights to the film. Would it cast a shadow over the magical Mary Poppins, I know and love?
Saving Mr. Banks begins with P.L Travers as a young girl growing up in the early 1900s, in Australia. It quickly flashes to 1961 where an older Travers is contemplating a two week trip. Traveling from her home in London to Los Angeles. She is to meet with Walt Disney and his team to negotiate Mary Poppins as a film. Through the use of flashbacks, the viewer is able to experience Travers’ childhood and the great impact it had in creating Mary Poppins. My initial feelings towards P.L Travers were less than kind. Her character starts out as a stubborn, cranky and rude villian. She is very adamant about her distaste for animation and even the great Walt Disney himself. But within minutes, I was pulled into the emotional rollercoaster P.L Travers experiences, during the her time in Los Angeles and the flashbacks of her childhood, specifically, her relationship with her father. When the wall Ms. Travers hides behind finally starts to crumble, we see the love and dedication to her family, especially her father on whom she based the character of Mr. Banks.
Saving Mr. Banks movie previews gave me the impression it would focus on how Walt Disney used his magic to get the rights to Mary Poppins. The movie is that and so much more. It demonstrates not only the charismatic Walt, but also the struggles, frustrations, hard work, awkward moments, and triumphs between Ms. Travers and screenwriter Don DaGradi, (Bradley Whitford), and the songwriting team of the Sherman Brothers, Richard (Jason Schwartzman) and Robert (B.J. Novak).
The meetings over specific details of the script and songs were audio taped per P.L. Travers’ request and added to the drama of the events. There were the occasional hilarious moments including the constant delivery of snacks which included very specific treats of the era. Additionally, there is the development of a magical friendship between Ms. Travers and Ralph, (Paul Giamatti), the kind hearted and funny limousine driver who is assigned to escort Travers during her visit to Hollywood. Finally, Saving Mr. Banks is about Ms. Travers and Walt Disney’ ability to bond, and therefore, understand each other, as they realize the impact their own individual childhood memories and relationships with their fathers had on the paths they have chosen.
The scenes for Saving Mr. Banks were filmed in and around the Los Angeles area, the Burbank Studios and Disneyland. The attention given to the smallest details, magically places the viewer in 1960’s time period which created a spot on and wonderful trip down memory lane for this native Southern Californian.
Starring alongside Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, the amazing cast also included Colin Farrell as Travers’ father, Ruth Wilson as her mother, Annie Buckley as a young Travers and Rachel Griffiths‘ portrayal of Aunt Ellie (who was the inspiration for Mary Poppins) complete with a carpet bag full of trinkets and quirky advice.
Saving Mr. Banks is directed by John Lee Hancock and produced by Alison Owen, Ian Collie and collaborator Philip Steuer, with the screenplay by Kelly Marcel and story by Sue Smith and Kelly Marcel. Executive producers Paul Trijbits, Andrew Mason, Troy Lum and Christine Langan.
Don’t miss this incredible movie available in U.S theatres near you beginning December 13th and worldwide beginning December 20, 2013.