When Walt Disney's daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins (1964), he made them a promise - one that he didn't realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney's plans for the adaptation. For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn't budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp. It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers ... Written by
Walt Disney Pictures
According to an article on the website The Flickcast - All Things Geek, during their Saturday panel, "Working with Walt," renowned Walt Disney Imagineers member Bob Gurr began to tear up while speaking about the film. As the web article reads on, "He, and the fellow Disney legends that joined him on stage, were touched by how director John Lee Hancock and screenplay writer Kelly Marcel brought Walt Disney to life again. Little quirks, like Disney clearing his throat to let you know that he was about to enter a room, have added a level of authenticity often lost in films like this." See more »
Mrs.Travers finally grants Disney the film rights to her books, except she signs the wrong page of the contract - the Witness page, in the space reserved for the person in whose presence she should've signed the Signatory page. She cannot legally be her own witness; and what is more Mr.Disney's signature is also invalid since nobody witnessed that either, as shown by the unsigned space further down the document. See more »
Winds in the east / Mist coming in / Like something is brewing / About to begin / Can't put me finger / On what lies in store / But I feel what's to happen / All happened before.
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At the beginning, the Disney logo is replaced by a special "Walt Disney Presents" logo with the old-fashioned segmented castle. See more »
Truth, not all the truth, yet nothing but the truth, Walt Disney's Saving Mr. Banks is a Best Picture Hopeful with all the good credentials
Walt Disney Pictures rarely aims for the Best Picture crown, being more a company focused on profits and sustaining its wildly popular brand. To make you haters hate more: they've earned $4 billion this year already and this includes the $200 million loss of Lone Ranger). They usually only distribute the movies that have a shot at Academy Awards immortality, with The Help (A Dreamworks film) being the latest example of a nominee and No Country For Old Men being their latest example of a winner.
But with Saving Mr. Banks, Disney is going the whole nine yards. With a stellar cast, seemingly endless budget (Giving John Lee Hancock a much-less stressful job in directing), high production value, and heavy dosage of drama that hides beneath the happier movie trailers, this film stands as one of the better dramas of the year and a sure-fire Oscar-contender. Touching upon the tissue-happy themes of forgiveness, family, and seeking happiness in a miserable world, prepare for waterworks throughout the two hours.
What makes this movie work more than anything else is the screenplay that didn't start in the studios of Disney, allowing for a more accurate portrayal of the true story behind the making of the masterpiece Mary Poppins----even if the entire world knows that with the backing of Disney some details will be left out. Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith weaved out an engaging story full of crisp dialogue and skillfully avoids becoming too overblown or too overdramatic. And whenever the movie gets close to being all-out depressing, we get treated to humorous moments here and there to keep the audience in check.
In a movie about artists that are addicted to their craft, you need actors that work with the same type of fervor. Emma Thompson despite not getting top billing gets the most screen time, gets the toughest job, and delivers the ultimate performance. She becomes very dislikable and yet sympathetic at the same time, and it is impossible to see anyone other than Thompson deliver this type of impact. Tom Hanks in an Oscar-baiting year does a superb job portraying the icon planet Earth knows and loves as he gives Walt Disney a humanized performance that separates the flawed man from the myth the Disney Company has feverishly worked to this day to protect. The rest of the cast does not disappoint, and we even see Colin Farrell potentially impress some Academy voters as the loving yet extremely defective father figure.
Disney's protection of its brand is the sole reason why Saving Mr. Banks could never ever ever ever ever ever be produced or made by anybody else. But luckily for all viewers, Disney doesn't pull back many punches in delivering the story behind the complex and conflicted making of Mary Poppins. It will be deep in the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards but ultimately indeed deserves the praise—even if you won't see all the details behind the true story on screen.
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