We all love Mary Poppins. Or most of us anyway. “That a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. The medicine go down, the medicine go down….”
Anyway… The 2013 comedy drama ‘Saving Mr Banks’ is the tale of how the 1964 film ‘Mary Poppins’ came to be and was directed by John Lee Hancock (also did ‘The Blind Side’) and based on a screenplay by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith.
The story runs across two timelines through the the film. The first being the period where the author of the original book ‘Mary Poppins’, P.L. Travers (played by Emma Thompson) is involved in the creation of a screenplay for the Poppins movie whilst Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) attempts to ensure that she approves the screenplay and signs over the rights to make the film to him.
The second story told throughout the film, is the story of Travers’ upbringing in Australia with a father (played by Colin Farrell) who was an alcoholic and whose drinking problems led to issues for his wife (Ruth Wilson) and children.
Through the film we see Travers, a stalwart British lady with high standards in everything, struggling to accept the ‘showy’ world of Disney and their approach to various elements of her story, creating some genuinely funny moments. As the secondary story unfurls we begin to understand why this might be.
There are a number of aspects to this film throughout the story. The more modern story has humour and nostalgic moments as we watch some of the classic songs from Poppins unfurl, the earlier tale has family drama and sadness.
They are brought together to create a touching tale with impressive performances from especially Thompson (who is fantastic in this film eating up every moment playing Travers) and Hanks, but also from Farrell who whilst not having a large role, captures a true sense of the conflict of someone struggling with alcoholism infront of his family.
The film reminds us of everything about ‘Mary Poppins’ – the fun, the songs, the cartoon penguins, but also the true story of it – the redemption of the children’s father Mr Banks.
“Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height…..”
‘Saving Mr Banks’ is currently available to stream on Netflix.