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Tuesday, May 31, 2016
'Saving Mr. Banks' and ourselves

I have many fond childhood memories. Among them, I remember sitting with my family on a sandy beach beside a lake that was as still as glass. It was night, and the sky was pitch black. I was 11 or 12 years old.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a flotilla of barges, illuminated by pyrotechnics that formed glittering animals, appeared, while Handel’s “Water Music” played.

I felt like I was in a dream, but I wasn’t. Life was suddenly strange and delightful. It seemed that this wondrous procession moving slowly across the horizon was created just for me. Forget that I was surrounded by hundreds of people. This show was mine and mine alone.

That, of course, is the magic of Walt Disney World. You are in this fantastical place, removed from everyday life, and particularly as a child, you believe (key word: believe) it has all been created just for you. It is a storybook come to life.

The memory of that show popped into my head when my wife and I recently watched “Saving Mr. Banks” with our kids. It’s the 2013 Disney Studios/BBC Films production about Walt Disney’s 20-year quest to create “Mary Poppins,” the partly animated film that recreated — if not verbatim, at least in spirit — P.L. Travers’s acclaimed children’s book of the same name, which was published in 1934 and followed by a series of books featuring the Mary Poppins character.

“Saving Mr. Banks” focuses on the final weeks of negotiations between Disney and Travers in 1961, as they reached a deal to make the multi-Academy Award-winning children’s film.

Funny, before “Saving Mr. Banks,” I had never thought of Walt Disney as a person. The generation or two of children before me grew up with Disney hosting TV specials. He was a national celebrity as big as, well, Mickey Mouse. But he died of lung cancer in December 1966, seven months before I was born. So I never had the chance to watch the avuncular Disney on TV.

I appreciated the details embedded in “Saving Mr. Banks” –– the towering plate of Ding Dongs and the oversized Jell-O mold offered as snacks by Disney’s receptionist to Travers, the shelf full of theme-park tchotchkes adorning Disney’s sprawling office. To any child born and bred during the 1960s and ’70s, Ding Dongs and Jell-O and Disney statuettes are oh-so-familiar symbols of the era.


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Just watched the film myself today, and can't help but think that you're opinion in the final few paragraphs is exactly what the theme of the movie is trying to oppose. The theme was the belief that though some form of letting loose whether it be making a movie like Mary Poppins or going on a family vacation as you say, or simply just imagination (as Travers Goff instilled in Helen) - those are the times that we look back on throughout life. The moments that get us through the hard times. It was shown in the film though Mrs Travers exactly what holding onto the past can do to a person. And she let the past go and forgave herself by allowing Disney to mold her story into one of the most prominent films of all time. "Saving Mr Banks" at least, showed that doing so allowed her to finally let go of some of her past demons, and she got over the events that bitterly shaped her life. I think we all need some fantasy and imagination in life so we don't end up living a life too serious and so we don't miss out on the opportunities that present themselves. Helen's memories and love for her father wasn't about saving $5,000 by not going to Disney world, it was based on the fact that he cared enough for her, despite his problems, to believe in her and instill in her that she could be anything she wanted to be through her imagination. As Tom Hanks said "isn't there a little child in all of us?".

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