Saving Mr. Banks is the tale of how Walt Disney came to acquire the rights to make the movie Marry Poppins. Marry Poppins was created by P. L. Travers, a quirky and hard to get along with woman who doesn’t like animation, or Walt Disney. The movie also covers Mrs. Travers’s childhood and the events that shaped what would become Marry Poppins.
The two stories—of how Walt Disney convinced Mrs. Travers to let him make the movie, and the story of the experiences that young Mrs. Travers took to make Marry Poppins—are intertwined skillfully. The conceit is that Mrs. Travers is remembering her childhood, that dealing with Walt Disney and his team as they go over the story is bringing up memories both wonderful and painful. Mrs. Travers is to an extent unlikeable because she is so demanding and exacting, and I love that about her. Part of the movie seems to be about how life scars us, and how that’s ok.
Saving Mr. Banks is a period piece, taking place in 1961, for the “current” part of the story, in L.A. and in London. The flashbacks take place in Allora, Queensland, Australia in 1906. The costumes, the cars, the palm trees and architecture, everything is immersive. You really get the feel of both the times and the places.
All the actors did a splendid job. The two primary characters are of course Walt Disney and P. L. Travers, but the rest of the cast feels rounded as well, despite not much of their lives being explored. The movie is primarily about Mrs. Travers and is ultimately about healing.
I liked Saving Mr. Banks. Take any movie “history” with a grain of salt of course, but it was fun and it had heart. The photographs and sketches that show during the credits were a nice touch.