Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thoughts on Saving Mr. Banks

The first trailer and look at the upcoming film Saving Mr. Banks was released today, and as something the Disney community has been anxiously waiting for, a mass of inevitable praises and criticisms have already begun.  I woke up this morning and before getting out of bed I read through a couple of the responses and conversations on Twitter as this was obviously THE topic of the day.  Of course as soon as I did leave my bed I grabbed my laptop and watched the trailer in all its glory to form my own opinion so I could join the discussions.  My biggest worry was the portrayal of the great Walt Disney himself, by a very high profile actor: Tom Hanks.  I was afraid it would be difficult to suspend my belief of Walt being played by Forrest Gump, Woody, etc.  After watching the entire trailer I was a bit disappointed to be left with such an ambivalent feeling and was pretty confused.  And I gathered from my social media visits that a lot of people feel this way too.  

On Twitter, in between the rants and raves were people ranting and raving about the ranting and raving... which to be honest is not uncommon when something big and Disney-related is announced!  In other words, there are always people who don't understand why everyone is not fully jumping on board and may be skeptical about things.  And in this case, people are so passionate about an adaptation of rich history that they want it to be the very best it can be.  They want 60's Disneyland, Tom Hanks' accent, the Sherman brothers' appearance, etc. to be perfect because they have a connection to these things that have influenced them throughout their lives.  

The story of Saving Mr. Banks revolves around Walt's attempts to acquire the rights to the story of Mary Poppins from the hard-headed and difficult P.L. Travers.  It's obvious in the trailer how much they explore her perfectionist attitude toward the story.  She is hesitant to release the rights to Disney because she is afraid they will make into a sparkly fairy tale full of fluff.  It gradually becomes clear Mary Poppins is very dear to Travers' heart because it is related to elements of her childhood.  We start to understand why she is so intent on things done her way and hesitant to release the rights to the biggest fairy tale adapter of that time.

The more I thought about it, this constant dissonance between the so-called "dusters" and "foamers" of the Disney community, a beauty of a correlation revealed itself.  I caught some poignant quotes from P.L. Travers' character in the trailer.  How many times have we heard these quotes from skeptics when Disney does, well, pretty much anything these days?
"She'll be cavorting... and twinkling." 
"I won't have her turned into one of your silly cartoons." 
"You don't know what she means to me."
P.L. Travers is a classic foamer, guys!  She won't just jump on board anything Disney does just because he is Walt Disney!  She wants something that is dear to her childhood to remain sacred and intact and not just a part of the next big thing.  What a beautiful message to our diverse Disney community we have here, being played out in film.  It is okay to be skeptical of things involving something that means a lot to you.  It doesn't make you a hater, or a downer, or a terrible person.  It just means you want the very best for the thing you are most passionate about.

Of course most of the Disney community is going to go see this film, regardless of our level of skepticism, and I cannot wait to see the whole thing and form a more concise opinion.  It will be interesting to see any other parallels we can draw or messages we can take to heart from Saving Mr. Banks.

Watch the trailer here:


  1. My expectations for this film are pretty low. I like Tom Hanks (who doesn't?), and Emma Thompson, but it is always so weird to see a movie version of something from recent history.

    As you have said, it will be tough for rabid Disney fans to accept Hanks as Walt, because we *really want it to be Walt*! It's almost too bad they didn't cast a talented unknown who brings no baggage to the role.

    I can't wait to start reading the reviews when it comes out!

    1. I totally agree with you about wishing they had picked an unknown talent to play Walt. It'll be great to hear all my fellow Disney fans' thoughts on the final product, including yours!