The Story of Saving Mr. Banks

The Story of Saving Mr. Banks

“Saving Mr. Banks,” released in December 2013 tells the untold story of the making Walt Disney Pictures classic, Mary Poppins.  Staring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, the film focuses around the controversy between author P.L. Travers and Walt Disney regarding the creation of what would become the 1964 film Mary Poppins.  The film also centers on the ‘The Boys’ or Robert and Richard Sherman.  Commonly known as ‘The Boys’ around the Walt Disney Company, the Sherman Brothers wrote the music and lyrics for Mary Poppins.  Although the Sherman Brothers had written music scores for a few Disney films prior to 1964, it was Mary Poppins that further launched their songwriting careers.  “Saving Mr. Banks” nicely showcases the Sherman Brothers talents and partnership.

To understand the new film, one needs to understand the direction Walt Disney was taking his company by the 1960s.  In the 1940s, Walt Disney experimented and achieved success with the idea of a hybrid movie.  A hybrid movie consists of both live actors and animation.  Starting in the 1950s, Walt Disney Pictures was established and released many live action films and achieved much success.  However, the success did not come without difficult times.  Many of these live action films came from famous novels and authors.

The storyline of  “Saving Mr. Banks” discusses how Walt Disney, portrayed by Tom Hanks, attempts to acquire the Mary Poppins movie rights from author P.L. Travers; portrayed by Emma Thompson.

Throughout the film, Travers struggles to see how and why Walt Disney and his creative team want to make a film about Mary Poppins.  Although one may think an author would have loved to see their work become a Walt Disney film, Travers was the complete opposite.  At one point in the early stages of the film, Travers sees a Winnie The Pooh bear and says “poor A.A. Milne.”  Due to the year in which that scene occurs in film, there is a chance it may not have occurred.  The first Winnie the Pooh production by Walt Disney was not released until two years after Mary Poppins was released; 1966.

Walt Disney and his creative team refuse to be put down by Travers and her thoughts.  The film title and storyline explain where the inspiration for the Mary Poppins story came from.  It may be true (only P.L. Travers would know) but maybe bringing Mary Poppins to life through Walt Disney brought back too many personal memories and life struggles.

“Saving Mr. Banks,” explains P.L. Travers true meaning of her infamous story and what it means to her life experience.  The new film is emotional but excellent.


Film Notes:

This is the first depiction of Walt Disney in a major film.

Walt Disney, who was an every day smoker, is not seen smoking in the film.  This is due to the fact, he did not want to be seen smoking by anyone.

In the Disneyland scene, look for Elias Disney’s name on a second story window on Main Street.  Every second or third story window on Main Street, USA in Disneyland or Magic Kingdom displays the name of someone significant to the Walt Disney Company.

Watch the credits for historical contents