Sim­ply mag­i­cal

Sav­ing Mr. Banks is a feel-good Dis­ney film about the mak­ing of a Dis­ney film.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By RO­MAIN RAYNALDY

DIS­NEY delves into its own his­tory in Sav­ing Mr. Banks, a movie about the dif­fi­cult birth of the clas­sic film Mary Pop­pins, wrenched from a tale by a re­luc­tant Bri­tish au­thor.

Tom Hanks plays Walt Dis­ney, who used all his sunny Californian charms to per­suade writer P.L. Travers, played by Emma Thomp­son, to al­low him to use the story.

Di­rected by John Lee Han­cock ( The Blind Side, The Alamo, A

Per­fect World), the film re­counts the two weeks Travers spent in 1961 at Dis­ney Stu­dios, where Walt bat­tled to win her con­sent for his whim­si­cal adap­ta­tion of her work.

Aus­tralian-born He­len Lyn­don Goff, who changed her name to P. L. Travers af­ter mov­ing to Bri­tain – a na­tion whose starchy na­tional stereo­type she came to em­body – be­gan writ­ing her Mary Pop­pins sto­ries in 1934. For two decades Dis­ney had been try­ing to se­cure the rights to her tale about an English nanny who floats into a fam­ily’s home with the help of a magic um­brella.

Dis­ney had nonethe­less al­ready be­gun the film, and in­vited Travers to come and work with the screen­writer and com­posers Robert and Richard Sher­man, hop­ing to win her con­fi­dence – never imag­in­ing how hos­tile she could be.

To pre­pare for the role, Thomp­son stud­ied ev­ery­thing about Travers.

“Around some cor­ners, you’d find this ter­ri­ble monster. And around other cor­ners, you’d find a beaten child. She was the most ex­tra­or­di­nary com­bi­na­tion of things,” Thomp­son said at a press con­fer­ence in Beverly Hills.

“I sup­pose that was the scary thing. In films, we of­ten get to play people who are emo­tion­ally, or at least morally, con­sis­tent, in some way, and she wasn’t con­sis­tent, in any way.

“You would not know what you would get, from one mo­ment to the next.”

The movie is con­structed around re­peated flash­backs to Travers’ child­hood in Aus­tralia, marked by bound­less ad­mi­ra­tion for her fa­ther, a day-dream­ing bank man­ager and chronic al­co­holic whose first name was Travers.

The film doesn’t claim to de­pict a his­tor­i­cally ex­act ac­count of events. But it is based on mem­o­ries of Dis­ney vet­er­ans, no­tably in cre­at­ing the un­for­get­table tunes for the 1964 film Mary Pop­pins star­ring Julie An­drews.

Richard Sher­man, the sole sur­vivor of the mu­si­cal duo be­hind the score, was “lit­er­ally a nev­erend­ing foun­tain of sto­ries, of facts, of anec­dotes, and of bits and pieces of ev­ery­thing that had hap­pened,” said Hanks.

The ac­tor, who is also a pro­ducer, said the new film is a per­fect il­lus­tra­tion of the ruth­less­ness a film­maker must some­times have to ex­ert in or­der to get a project com­pleted.

“At this point, Walt Dis­ney was pretty much used to get­ting his way be­cause ev­ery­body loved him and he was the guy who in­vented Mickey Mouse,” he told re­porters.

“In the cre­ative process, which is re­ally what this movie is about, you come to log­ger­heads and you just have to keep the process mov­ing for­ward, even if that re­quires jump­ing on a plane and fly­ing to Lon­don.

“It’s a good thing. It’s fun, other­wise it would be too much work,” he added.

Thomp­son said she was sure what Travers would have thought of Sav­ings Mr. Banks.

“I think what she would say about this is ‘ This is an ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous film! It has no re­la­tion­ship, what­so­ever, to what was hap­pen­ing. But, it’s about me. And the clothes were re­ally rather nice.’ ” – AFP

Sav­ing Mr. Banks opens in cin­e­mas na­tion­wide on Feb 20.

Wran­gling with the writer: In Sav­ingMr.Banks, Tom Hanks plays Walt Dis­ney, who uses all his sunny Californian charms to per­suade writer P.L. Travers, played by Emma Thomp­son, to al­low him to turn her book into a film.

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