Friday, 6 December 2013

'Saving Mr Banks'

I was taken to see the new Emma Thompson film, 'Saving Mr Banks', at the Ritzy in Brixton this evening. It tells the tale of Walt Disney persuading PL Travers to allow him to film 'Mary Poppins'. Obviously he was ultimately successful but it took 20 years.  Emma plays Mrs Travers and Tom Hanks is Disney and there's a great and warm cast supporting them. I particularly liked Paul Giamatti who played her driver in Los Angeles.

The film flits between scenes in the LA rehearsal studios where the film is painfully born and the outback in Australia where Mrs Travers grew up with her alcoholic father and weak mother. We see scenes from her childhood and how her father encouraged her flights of fancy, see him gradually becoming more obviously an alcoholic until an accident that signals the end for him. We then meet her aunt with distinct Poppins tendencies...

I don't know how 'true' the film is, of how Mrs Travers gradually thawed from her prickly and demanding start to becoming more human and I don't really care. Disney is cast as the hero, sharing her story of a loved but flawed father and gradually wearing her down until she signs over the rights to the book. Both Emma and Tom Hanks were excellent and worked well together - I thoroughly enjoyed the fillum and would recommend it to anyone with a smidgen of imagination.

There are a few clips from 'Mary Poppins' in the film and they just served to underline how little time I have for Dick Van Dyke's cockerney Burt the chimney-sweep but he's part of the overall Poppins experience so that's that. I have two distinct memories of 'Mary Poppins':

1. Seeing the stage show in the West End and, at the end, Mr Banks going up to the bird lady on the steps of St Paul's with his tuppence and asking if she would do him the honour of feeding the birds on his behalf; and

2. Being in the audience for the first rehearsal of the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony when Lord Voldemort and Cruella DeVille were menacing the children and then Mary Poppins floats down to save the day (lots of her actually - well, she is practically perfect after all). I remember exclaiming 'Poppins!' out loud when I saw her floating down with an open umbrella but I don't think anyone noticed...

I now have a third memory. 'Let's go fly a kite...'. 

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