Saving Mr. Banks – Review

Frazer Lough
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Saving Mr Banks tells of the turbulent creation behind the Disney Classic Mary Poppins. Directed by John Lee Hancock there is no denying that this is a fine film indeed. Based around Walt Disney’s efforts to secure the rights to a film version of Mary Poppins the film shows just how difficult the ride was for him. The prim, proper and rather stern Pamela Travers is incredibly reluctant to let Disney get his animation hands all over the world’s favourite nanny. After spending 20 years trying to secure the rights to the book Disney finally gets a chance to try and woo Travers.

It is only when money starts to become tight that Travers finally agrees to fly to LA and meet the ubiquitous Disney, though he doesn’t quite know what is about to hit him. Upon her arrival in the City of Angels, Travers makes her distaste for the city, animation and Mickey Mouse and co abundantly clear from the off. Having full creative control makes the creation a rather difficult one for the Sherman brothers and the writing team behind Mary Poppins with Travers declaring that there will be no animation whatsoever and that Mary Poppins does not sing.

Travers’ controlling nature rears its head when she demands that the brothers unmake a word that they have created, ‘responstible’ placing fears on the wonderful ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’. The true turning point in the film for Travers is when she is played Let’s Go Fly A Kite for the first time, though that doesn’t mean it’s going to be plain sailing after this.

Saving Mr. Banks doesn’t just focus on the creation of Mary Poppins but also shows us a sprinkling of Travers’ childhood, offering up exactly what her inner horrors are and why it is so difficult to let go of the world’s favourite nanny. Anyone who is a fan of Mary Poppins knows the true meaning behind the story, though many people see different interpretations. Travers knows the true meaning of the film and it is getting Disney to see that Mary Poppins didn’t come to save the children that is the main battle. Growing up in Australia with her dreamer of a father, Travers Goff (Colin Farrell), life for the young Travers wasn’t an easy one and it is in this we begin to learn the true meaning of Mary Poppins and why she means so much to her. It’s therefore Mr. Banks that Mary Poppins comes to save, rather than the children.

Emma Thompson brilliantly plays Pamela Travers, showing that she understands the inner demons that prevent her from simply handing over Mary Poppins, never ever just Mary. Delving into her character Thompson shows just how good an actress she is, becoming – and deservedly so – the star of the film. Tom Hanks is the same as ever; in the role of Walt Disney he doesn’t disappoint. Playing the firm yet jovial Disney, Hanks knocks out another great performance just after the release of Captain Phillips. With these two brilliant and a perfectly matched script, it is hard not to love this film which offers just the perfect dose of sentiment. The supporting cast can’t be forgotten, especially Jason Schwartzman and B. J Novak who play the Sherman Brothers –  the composers behind the music for Mary Poppins – who show just how difficult it was to work with the ferocious P L Travers.

A fantastic film that will make you laugh and, if you’re like me, shed a tear or two. With a fantastic cast Saving Mr. Banks should not be missed this winter.

About Frazer Lough

A 19 year old Linguistics student, hailing from the great city of Newcastle. Technically a Geordie, definitely Northern.