Jerry took me to see Saving Mr. Banks the other day, the movie about Walt Disney trying to persuade the author of Mary Poppins to sell him movie rights to the books. (Two seniors–at a matinee–$18.50! We’ll wait for the DVD next time. But it was worth seeing on the big screen.)
I identified uncomfortably with Mrs. Travers. There is a prim, controlled, uptight, judgmental, humorless, brittle, bitter woman inside me, too. I felt that part of me resisting everything American and Hollywood as much as she was doing. But like Mrs. Travers there is also a little girl in me who adored her flawed father. How did the little girls we both were become the guarded women we are? That kept me immensely curious throughout the movie and the message which came through the ultimate revelation penetrated my defenses.
I thought the weaving of the two plots superbly done. This is one of those movies you must see twice, once when you don’t understand what is happening and once when you do.
And what was the message? Walt Disney always had his way? Yes, but beyond that–let go, maybe. Laugh a little. Hug a huge Teddy bear. Dance. Those writers and directors had us laughing and crying and laughing and crying and cheering in spite of ourselves. Wrung us out. Good thing we were sitting in the very back row. Even Jerry said it was a 3-Kleenexer.
But I still feel Mrs. Travers was justified in banishing Mickey Mouse to the corner, face to the wall “until you learn the art of subtlety.”
For another perspective, the review by Piers Marchant in Arkansas Online makes some telling points, especially in reference to Disney’s treatment of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and P.L. Travers’ ultimate rejection of their version of her book: “She is meddlesome and exacting, refusing to sign over the rights until she is satisfied the film will meet her lofty standard.
“As well she might. After all, this is the very same Disney corporation that took A.A. Milne’s brilliant, moving children’s stories about a honey-loving bear named Pooh and his irascible friends and turned them into a bank of dull, featureless commodities, removing nearly every notable element of the characters’ personalities and duly replacing them with stock, Disney-approved virtues. . .
“In reality, Travers was so adamantly unhappy with the final production – especially the animated penguins sequence – she refused to ever work with Disney again on any subsequent sequels, and further forbade any members of the film production to have a hand in the eventual stage adaptation some decades later.” In other words, she was never amused. http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2013/dec/20/saving-mr-banks-20131220/?f=entertainment-movies