‘Saving Mr Banks’ revisited: ‘Mary Poppins’ drama celebrates 10th anniversary

Mary Poppins was the first film I ever watched on video when I was small.

So it’s probably not surprising that, years later, 2013’s Saving Mr Banks should also go on to be included in my list of favourite movies, especially as its main focus is to show us how it all first began: a tug-o’-war between an inspiring millionaire with a dream to fulfil and a promise to keep and an uptight, best-selling author with an image to maintain and a long-buried secret to reveal.

Every time I watch Saving Mr Banks, I am always rather saddened by the fact that a such a content, wide-eyed little girl as Helen ‘Ginty’ Goff should go on to become such a cold, stiff, critical and unyielding person as the adult Pamela Lyndon Travers (Emma Thompson).

However, as the film progresses, I am again reminded of the reasons behind it all and am able to see why she has become such a ‘closed door’; as a child, she witnessed the vulnerability of adults and their failure to “fix everything” when a crisis arose.

Since then, she has refused to risk having her heart broken once again and has therefore proceeded to place her faith in the one person who – though she may not have been there for her at the time – will undoubtedly make everything alright for the Banks family.

You can consequently see why she is so reluctant to relinquish her precious treasure to a renowned American film producer, regardless of whether he is considered the greatest mogul of all time; he could either make or break Mary Poppins, and Mrs Travers is pessimistically convinced that it is to be the latter – how could someone so disbelievingly jolly and blindly carefree ever understand what the character of Mary Poppins means to her?

Yet she is proven to be wildly mistaken, as both she and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) are eventually to discover that each other has their own secret, unspoken past, which encouraged them to seek refuge in Mary Poppins and Mickey Mouse respectively; these characters were created in order to provide an antidote to the deep, dark voids in their individual childhoods.

I have many favourite scenes in Saving Mr Banks.  Walt Disney’s poignant and heart-breaking revelation to Mrs Travers during his sudden visit to her home in London is one of them; the beautiful image of young Ginty ‘flying away’ with her father (Colin Farrell) on the white horse is another.  Mickey Mouse’s incredibly kind, unexpected gesture of offering his arm to the lonely Mrs Travers on the red carpet would be a moment to treasure were it to happen to me.

However, I would say that the one to break them all (regardless of what real-life event accounts would claim) is Mrs Travers’ heart-rending reaction to the film’s premier in the darkened cinema; surrounded by people and yet once again so alone, were it not for the kind, warm presence of Walt Disney behind her, ever there and ever reassuring, proof that a spoonful of sugar can melt even the coldest of demeanours.

Saving Mr Banks is available on DVD on Amazon.

Article written by Ann Philippas.