In a shift from his performance in the highly acclaimed Captain Philips, Tom Hanks stars as Walt Disney in the story behind the family favourite Mary Poppins. As one of the world’s most memorable Nannies turns fifty we see how the much loved film nearly never existed.
On the face of it, the film is about the relationship between Walt Disney (Hanks) and author P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson), as Disney tries to obtain the rights to the Mary Poppins story, but it entails so much more. The story switches between their ongoing struggle and the tale of Travers’ youth in Australia, concentrating specifically on her relationship with her alcoholic father, played by Colin Farrell. This provides a fascinating insight into the inspiration of the story which is now so widely known.
One of the most effective aspects of Saving Mr. Banks is its incorporation of the Mary Poppins original soundtrack, both in the rehearsal room scenes and during the Australian story. There is one scene in particular when the focus shifts between the ‘present’ (1960) and Australia to the song Fidelity Fiduciary Bank.
From the very start, the differences between the eccentric Walt and the sombre Mrs. Travers provide a microcosm of the differences between the loud and garish American way and the stereotypical English conservatism. Both Hanks and Thompson should be applauded for their performances in presenting each end of this scale. Equally Farrell should be commended for his portrayal of Travers Goff. Also worthy of a mention is young actress Annie Rose Buckley who plays young P. L. Travers who excels in the emotionally charged scenes in Australia.
An interesting addition to an already insightful movie is the inclusion of an original recording of P. L. Travers in a meeting about the script during the end credits, which really hits home how accurate Thompson’s portrayal is.
In places funny, in others emotional, this is the perfect tribute to Mary Poppins as the family favourite turns 50.
I defy anyone to go and see this and not leave humming the tune of Lets Go Fly A Kite. Saving Mr Banks not only provides the audience with a new meaning to the original Mary Poppins, but is a very good film in its own right. The interlinking stories of Travers and Disney in 60’s LA and Travers’ tumultuous childhood in Australia keep the story engaging and entertaining to the audience. In places funny, in others emotional, this is the perfect tribute to Mary Poppins as the family favourite turns fifty.