I participated in a FROZEN/Pirate Fairy Press Event which included a tour of the Walt Disney Studio and a copy of to facilitate this review – Disney provided transportation and accommodations; all opinions are my own. Read more about this event here and by following the hashtag #piratefairybloggers on Twitter.
Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks has made its way to home video and is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, Digital HD, and On-Demand today. The film, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, is a look back on the relationship between Disney and the writer P. L. Travers, and the struggle to obtain the rights to Mary Poppins.
While the film is based in truth, it’s not completely factual. Disney took a little creative license with the story to create a compelling movie, but it doesn’t detract from the film.
Film Clip: Never Just Mary
Saving Mr. Banks – Recipes Inspired by the Film
Saving Mr. Banks – Featurettes
There aren’t many special features sadly, but those that are there are not to be missed. The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to Present is hosted by director John Lee Hancock. He gives us a look at the studio back in the sixties and we meet several of the animator’s children who grew up on the lot during that time. There’s also a cameo by the real Richard Sherman in the halls of the studio where he shares his last moment with Walt and visits the new inhabitant of the office he shared with his brother for 11 years. We find out during the tour that it was in that office that the conversations with P.L. Travers actually happened.
There’s also a short featurette where Richard Sherman is joined by the cast and crew on the last day of filming in an impromptu chorus of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” Even at his advanced age, Sherman plays the piano and signs along with such grace.
But what about the film? From the first few moments on screen I loved it. Disney recreated the 1960’s to perfection. The airport was devoid of rolling bags and men and women were dressed in their best clothes – travelling was something only the upper class experienced.
Saving Mr. Banks – Was P. L. Travers Really That Cranky?
P. L. Travers is kindly played by Emma Thompson. After hearing the actual tapes of the author, she’s much more cross sounding than the character is played on screen. If you watch the credits, you’re rewarded with a few minutes of the actual conversations between her and the writers and I had the pleasure of hearing additional tapes at the Disney Archives. While it’s easy to explain her as difficult, one must remember it was a very different time back then.
Film Clip: Call Me Walt
Times were changing and those born and raised in the very proper Victorian era were being dragged into this new free-loving society of the 60’s where people called each other by their first names. Consider the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey. While she’s seen as endearing to some because of her wit, she’s going through the same societal changes PL Travers would have been as well.
Saving Mr. Banks – Shooting on the Walt Disney Studio Campus
Much of the film was shot on the Walt Disney Studio campus in California. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting it several times and can attest it looks much like it does in the film; though they added a bench or two here and there to give the characters a place to have a moment. The photos of the lot in the 1960’s show it to be a bustling place. It’s not as much so now with the exception of lunchtime, but it’s still a pretty magical place to be.
Saving Mr. Banks – Recreating Walt Disney’s Office & Disneyland in the 1960’s
Walt Disney’s office was recreated to exacting details by using photos and other pieces from the era. The filmmakers recreated all of the awards and furniture that Walt had in his office. I visited the walking tour of the film props and the detail was amazing – down to the minute details of what he kept on his desk (with a few changes to help tell the story).
They also took Disneyland back to the 1960’s in perfection. Dresses, lace anklets, and families dressed up for the day show how different the era was. It was fun to take a look back at the fashions of the time.
Saving Mr. Banks – Cast & Final thoughts
The film features a supporting cast that includes a fabulous performance from Colin Farrell (Total Recall), Paul Giamatti (Sideways), Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore), Bradley Whitford (TV’s The West Wing), Annie Rose Buckley (TV’s Home and Away), Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger), B.J. Novak (TV’s The Office), Rachel Griffiths (TV’s Brothers & Sisters) and Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands).
On its own, the film is a great story. That some of it is based in fact makes it intriguing and it made me want to learn more about the life of Mary Poppins’ creator. The film is rated PG-13, though I’m not sure why. There’s no language, nudity, or sex. Not even car chases. In fact, short of alcohol and an brief attempted suicide, there’s really nothing objectionable.