Saving Mr. Banks (d. John Lee Hancock USA/UK/Australia 2013)

Saving Mr. Banks (d. John Lee Hancock USA/UK/Australia 2013)

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis at the bottom for any who wish to see one.


Entertainment: starfish starfish starfish starfish

Performances: starfish starfish starfish starfish

Predictability: starfish starfish starfish

Technical: starfish starfish starfish starfish


Yes, we seem to be in nostalgia again with this film. This period piece acts like a homage to cinema itself. I confess that this time its quite important to discuss a specific to the films concept. SPOILER, this is a film about the making of Mary Poppins (d. Robert Stevenson USA 1964). As such this film pays tribute to Mary Poppins. In every remake, adaptation, tribute or sequel, this one makes the most sense. It doesn’t try to recreate or abuse for profit its source material. It’s inspired.


Saving Mr. Banks puts careful attention to each of its characters, trying as hard as possible to capture their psychology and make up accurately. The performances and dedication of some of the primary cast, including Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, was impressive. They do well to keep a spectators empathy, even when they may be behaving quite difficultly. P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson) has a tendency to be quite annoyingly difficult towards other characters, however, the film takes care to allow a spectator to appreciate her reasons why. Adding to the narrative complexity are the use of flashbacks, that add a lot to inform the psychology of the protagonist, P. L. Travers. (Also introduces Colin Farrell as Travers Goff in an impressive performance with much depth.) In this way the film respectfully explores its characters adding much to central characters through each scene.


The way in which the film is presented is with a careful consideration of cinematography. Though the flashbacks are never obviously marked, there is an attention given to the way in which the scenes are presented – leaving them feeling different to the rest of the film. In this way the scenes in flashback lead up to a big reveal, that helpfully pushes you through each moment and eventually adds a lot of interest to the rest of the film. Saving Mr. Banks also explores, with technical proficiency, the use of different media and stock footage. Television and cinema is presented within this film with a careful respect for the difference in its use and affect for the time. Certain elements being recreated with a rather careful attention given to the cinematography, so that it best reflects footage of the time. This is done in a way that is different to the rest of the film, but accurate to the period. Essentially, television and cinema is shown as being seen from that time. This really helps to showcase the skills of the crew involved.


Saving Mr. Banks is a well done tribute to the past and serves a lot better than a remake, sequel or adaptation would have done. The characters are well scripted and performed and there is a technical originality at play here. This really is a film to showcase the cast and crew and their achievements. It gives loving attention to the source material. It would be interesting to see more films like this one, out in cinemas at the moment but… alas.


Further Reading

Official Site

Mary Poppin’s Site

Interview with Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson and Colin Farrell

Interview with John Lee Hancock

Interview with Richard Sherman

A Tribute to Julie Andrews

What Saving Mr. Banks tells us about Mary Poppins

The Story behind Saving Mr. Banks

Tom Hanks on being Walt Disney

Mary Poppins: A Woman of Many Personalities

Life and Letters: Becoming Mary Poppins

Step in Time


Back in the 1960s Walt Disney has been trying to convince P. L. Travers to let him adapt a film version of her book Mary Poppins. She finally concedes but is very anxious about what they were do to her beloved book.

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