Saving Mr. Banks is a dramatic retelling of the collaboration between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) that ultimately ended in the creation of the Mary Poppins film in 1964. But is it worth picking up?
The narrative of the film shifts back and forth between the early 60’s and periods of Travers’ youth, beginning in 1906. The scenes of Travers’ youth, featuring a wonderfully cast Colin Farrell, serve as not only a background for Travers herself, but to suggest portions of Mary Poppins are autobiographical. But I won’t get into the historical accuracy of the film, as I believe doing so would only dilute the pure joy this movie exudes.
We begin with an aging Travers in a financial situation that requires her to begrudgingly give in to Walt Disney’s twenty year courtship of her novel’s rights. Disney’s motivation is said to a promise he made to his daughters, that he would bring Mary Poppins to the screen.
The film take a very emotional, often funny look at the meetings between Disney, Travers, The Sherman Brothers (BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman), who were responsible for the film’s music, and Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), one of the screenwriters. The film shows a wonderfully energetic Walt Disney trying as hard as he can to please the no-nonsense, no fun and “NO ANIMATION” Travers. While ultimately their collaboration ended with an Oscar winning, timeless film, Travers never was pleased with what was put on screen.
While the story presents a perfect dramedy, the real strength of the film lies in the casting. Each part is effortlessly played by its actor, with Hanks’ Walt Disney being an absolute gem. It certainly helps to use the classic music from Marry Poppins, interwoven through the film both in work room scenes as well as influenced in the musical score, to give the audience a feeling of authenticity.
At just a hair over two hours, the movie never over stays its welcome, and I found myself wanting even more of the scenes that show the collaborative process in bringing Mary Poppins from page to screen. Overall, it is an extremely solid film from the Disney Studio, which I recommend highly.
The film was shot in ratio of 2:40:1, so black bars will be present on the top and bottom of the image. The image is incredibly sharp, colors appear to be wonderfully natural, and there is a perfect amount of slight grain on the image. I could not detect any negative image issues such as banding, crushing or aliasing. An extremely strong video transfer from Disney.
The audio is presented in DTS 5.1 HD-MA and is more than proficient. The film isn’t special-effect heavy so sound focuses on dialogue and small sound effects will come through the rears to give ambience. The shots that take place in Disneyland are predictably more immersive, and the sound mix handles this with ease. Not much bass in the film, but the low end is excellent. Very good mix and presentation.
Here is really where my disappointment comes in this release. The special features are very scarce: made up of only three items, totaling less than 30 minutes.
The first is labeled “From Poppins to the Present” and features Director John Lee Hancock speaking about the studio, the look and design of the film, the making of Mary Poppins, etc. It does feature some interviews with former employees, and overall it is a nice feature. I only wish it was longer.
The second special feature is titled “Let’s Go Fly A Kite,” and stars the remaining living Sherman Brother, Richard, singing the song along with cast members.
The third feature consists of three scenes that were ultimately deleted from the film. There’s nothing really crucial here to the story, and nothing exciting within the scenes.
Overall, Saving Mr. Banks is a true Disney film from beginning to end. While the film makers took liberties in interpreting the history, what was done was purely for audience enjoyment. Featuring wonderful songs, superb acting and a witty script, the film succeeds on every level. I think it really is on par with many of Disney’s films, delivering great entertainment while refusing to get caught up in the details. I recommend this release highly. In fact, not picking up this disc would be “irresponstable.”
Have you bought your copy yet? Let us know what you thought!