Monday, 20 January 2014

Saving Mr Banks ...

It's hard to know what to say - what to start with - when trying to describe this film. I could tell you that you definitely need to see it; that you will laugh, cry and want to shout at the screen; that by the end, whatever your feelings on Disney, you will love and adore the characters and hope that Emma Thompson writes all future scripts for all movies. "Saving Mr Banks," as well as being the story of how the much loved children's book "Mary Poppins" was made into an equally - if not more so - loved Disney film, is about a (now grown up) little girl and her relationship with her father. It is about how your past haunts you into adulthood, and if you aren't careful and willing to let it go, all through your life. It is about love and loss, about watching your parents screw up their lives and, by extension yours. 

I have to confess I didn't cry while watching it. I didn't cry as two small girls watched their father drink himself closer and closer to death and then eventually, gently even, slip over the edge. I didn't cry as the oldest daughter saved her unstable mother from a suicide attempt. I didn't cry as P. L. Travers, now a fully grown-up woman and a successful writer, crumpled into tears watching her childhood brought to life in a magical, moving film that somehow made all of that pain as close as it would ever be to alright. In fact the closest to tears I got was as she hugged a Mickey Mouse cuddly toy all alone in L. A. and realised how just how very lonely she was.

Trust me, you need to watch this film. If you love the story of the nanny who blew in with the east wind, carrying a magic carpet bag; providing the spoonfuls of sugar needed to help the life lessons go down, then you will enjoy seeing a whole new element to her creation brought to life. If you are yet to be won over by the singing and the dancing, the mystery and adventures - the dancing penguins and the flying kites in London skies, the suffragettes, the chimney sweeps and the echoing cathedral with it's swooping birds - prepare to have your opinions changed. Emma Thompson is totally magical and has written a movie that will sweep the most hardened Disney haters off their feet. Tom Hanks is ideal as Walt Disney - the storyteller who makes dreams come true and characters dance off the page and into imaginations all over the world.
The songs that make "Mary Poppins" so wonderful are all here. From Chim-Chiminey to Supercallifragilistic to Feed the Birds (sobs) and Fly A Kite, you can easily spend the whole film singing along and will come away feeling oddly reminded of your childhood, however distant it seems day to day. Personally, among others such as Annie and The Sound of Music, Mulan, Peter Pan and Pocohontas, "Mary Poppins" was one of the films I watched with my sister about 743682 times when we were little. It's really rare to see something that perfectly appreciates what's so wonderful about the original, but adds to it beautifully, expanding on the themes you were only partially aware of, when watching curled up on the sofa, having begged to stay up past bedtime to finish the ending. It allows you to love it again in a whole new way; seeing it with fresh, grown-up - or at least closer to it - eyes. 
And finally, no. She didn't come to save the children. She never did. Excuse me while I go and cry over how perfect "Saving Mr Banks" is, re-watch "Mary Poppins" and spend the next three weeks raving about it to everyone I know.


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