Saturday, February 8, 2014

Dear Jodie! Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks Theatrical Poster.jpg

Dear Jodie,

I saw Mary Poppins in its original release in 1964 and fell in love with it.  Naturally, when I saw the previews for Saving Mr. Banks, I couldn't wait.  What better story for this actor and writer to see?

If I had a trepidation going in, it was that Walt Disney Pictures was involved in the making of this story . . . along with BBC films.  The issue for me would be how would the Walt Disney Pictures portion of this team handle a story that ultimately didn't end well between P. L. (Pamela) Travers and Walt Disney?

I needn't have worried.  Just as the movie transported P. L. Travers back to the world of Helen Lyndon Goff, her younger self, it transported me back to 1964, and all of the times since that I have seen Mary Poppins.

 Oh, Jodie, I can't count the number of times I have been down in the dumps only to have Mary Poppins pull me out, laughing and joyous.

Saving Mr. Banks had a similar effect on the adult Rocky.

I loved everything about this movie. A friend of mine didn't like the flashbacks, but to my mind, the essence of this movie is in the backstory.  How did loving, open, imaginative Helen Lyndon Goff become tight, repressed, almost misanthropic Pamela Lyndon Travers?

We do learn.

I thought the acting in this movie rocked!  As I mentioned in my Philip Seymour Hoffman tribute, one of the most difficult roles an actor can play is someone in living memory.  For me Walt Disney is within living memory.  Tom Hanks shined, especially in the London scene.

Colin Farrell kicked serious ass as Travers Goff.  Bradley Whitford and Jason Schwartzman were amazing as the Sherman Brothers.  So many others did great jobs, but I did want to give a shout out to young Annie Rose Buckley as Helen.  What a lovely performance!

The movie, though, belonged to Emma Thompson, and her role was so much more difficult than even Tom Hanks.  In addition to being within living memory, P. L. Travers comes off as a pill early on in the movie, and Emma had to sustain that while making ever-so-gentle steps forward, gaining and keeping the sympathy of the audience along the way.

She amazed me by doing it in almost imperceptible baby steps.

I especially loved the scenes between Pamela and Ralph (Paul Giamatti), and their developing friendship.

Saving Mr. Banks allowed me to go back to 1964 and not just enjoy Mary Poppins, but to take shy, hurt, Rocky, who had no self-worth, and show him that everything is all right.

But Saving Mr. Banks left me torn.

The writer in me completely understands the need for Pamela Travers to see her creation as her family, and to cling hard to her own vision of that family.  My writer soul relates to the disappointment and even anger that she felt when it didn't completely turn out her way.

The child in me, both from 1964 and now, believes that Walt Disney served her family brilliantly.

What a great collaboration between Australian, American, and British filmmakers!

My intellect gives the movie 8 out of 10.

My emotions give it a 10.

Oh, Jodie!  Did I tell you that in the 90's, I collected about 300 autographs, including this one of Dick Van Dyke.


What did you think of Saving Mr. Banks?

You can find Jodie's take here.

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