Saving Mr. Banks
Saving Mr. Banks covers the true story behind Mary Poppins. It examines the origin of the character and her creator’s own experience in bringing Mary Poppins to life. Much like the original film, Hancock’s further delving into the story has a magical essence at the center.
The fairy tale essence of Travers' childhood reminiscence is very well executed. Golf’s eloquent and magnanimous personality establish such a magical time that it feels more like a dream, yet without debate about the authenticity or reality of it.
The piano melody which begins the film impeccably fuses both reality and fantasy while remaining true to Mary Poppins' original music. The somber atmosphere it creates coupled with the childlike characteristic of the piano is what creates Travers before she appears onscreen. The seamless transition between Helen and Pamela is the first among many, submerging and reemerging from the fairy tale world. It lasts until she accepts that Walt has kept his word, cherishing her story through Mary Poppins. Only then does the fairy tale music find itself within the serious realm of harsh reality which Travers has built for herself.
the film begins and ends with the magical tune in a fairy tale world. Perhaps Hancock’s aim is to save the child in the viewer, just as with Travers. The struggle between willfully living in a fantasy and having to face the music is not simple, yet the back and forth between Travers and Disney manages to shake her out of her vicious circle.
Even at the end, she attempts to pass off her emotions as something else, as she insists that she's crying because of the cartoons within the picture. Only moments later does the happiest melody of Let's Go Fly a Kite fade away into the piano prelude. As we've been catching bits and pieces from her feelings about the matter all throughout, here she experiences the cathartic relief she'd needed since childhood. While all eyes are on Mary Poppins, ours are on Travers. The piano acknowledges the reason for her reaction as well as its severity. It helps her transcend her most daunting fear and in at least one way returns her to that little girl with whom we began. It is indeed a mythical quality of a film to begin and end in the same manner, more so when the narration implies a circular timeline - "I feel what's to happen has happened before". As it begins in medias res, so does it end in the middle of Travers' catharsis without lingering. It would not be farfetched to assume the entire film shows characteristics of a dream.
The past and present are one. They are visually interconnected, shown best through Golf's speech for the bank. The point of no return is when the intoxicated Golf asks little Travers how old she is. Her disappointment leads to denial of Golf's increasingly strange behavior and a life-long crusade to save her precious father from ever failing at keeping the fantasy alive. Her failure leads to her antihero traits being the driving force.
Saving Mr. Banks is a well-done movie in that it also manages to add another layer of depth to an existing film. It succeeds in strengthening the foundations upon which Mary Poppins is built, while providing another point of view from which to watch it again.
It may be the case that the film and its content is a fairy tale tailored for adults. More precisely for the ones who dislike fantasy in the way Mary Poppins is fantastical. It could simultaneously be also for children, explaining why some people can be grumpy no matter what. Hancock’s film is a fantastic exploration of the clash between illusion and reality and the consequences of clinging to illusion in an unforgiving world.