Saving Mr. Banks hits Berlin cinemas March 6
Upon first viewing of this wide-eyed retelling of Walt Disney’s attempt to win the production rights to Mary Poppins, one could be forgiven for feeling much like Emma Thompson’s P.L. Travers – eyes set to roll, cynicisms at the ready – but despite its blatant fabrications, the film’s charms, much like those of the studio it portrays, can be difficult to resist. With flashbacks of her childhood throughout, the story’s main arc follows Travers on her first trip to Los Angeles – financial difficulties having finally forced the author to consider the advances of a determined Walt Disney to bring her beloved character to the big screen. She sees her creation as quite realist fare and so fights her corner on everything from animated penguins to the Sherman brothers’ now-iconic songs. Of course we all know the outcome, so the fun comes in seeing Tom Hanks’ bumbling Walt trying to woo the cold dame over. Is the Mouse House attempting to cement Disney into our collective psyche as America’s most beloved leading man instead of the alleged chain smoking, anti-Semitic chauvinist of whom we’ve heard? Presumably so. But then again, perhaps such sunshine and fantasy is profoundly fitting. A spoonful of sugar indeed.
Saving Mr. Banks | Directed by John Lee Hancock (USA 2013) with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. Starts March 6
Originally published in issue #125, March 2014.