Monday, December 23
In Saving Mr. Banks, Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney as he persuaded author P. L. Travers ("Mrs. Travers!") to release her beloved Mary Poppins as a light-hearted musical. Travers, played amazingly by Emma Thompson, wants to protect her Mary Poppins, safely hidden away in a safe world without frivolity. Disney helps Travers work through her childhood issues which are the underpinning of her beloved Mary Poppins.
I came out of the movie crying like a baby; the dragon slayer -- gets me every time.....
That's what it boils down to, Travers' dragon slayer failed her so she built up a tough exterior that would never be disappointed again.
Travers, as a child, had such a lovely, lovely view of the world -- a real fairy tale, fed by her creatively intense imagination, fed by her father, her dragon slayer. He is simply supposed to slay her dragon and when he doesn't, when he himself is slain, she is devastated. Angry. Hurt. She will never trust anyone to slay her dragons again. He was weak, he was not a dragon slayer, he was weak and foolish and she is angry, hardened and immune to such deceit ever again.
She hated him. She missed him. She loved him. She was let down. She would never let that happen again. The foolishness of high hopes, the pretense of imagination and creativity was not acceptable. She was closed, hard, angry.
In this self protected shell, Travers re-wrote her life story. She created a world that would never let her down. In this re-write, there was no room for lightheartedness, no room for nonsense that gets you nowhere, no room for imagination. That was her version of Mary Poppins. Poppins was hers and hers alone, a serious woman who took care of things. Nothing slipped by Poppins and for Disney to suggest Poppins needed a little song and dance, a little magic, was absolutely ludicrous. Impossible. Travers was not going back to imagination. Ever. As a girl, she believed in the power of imagination, but as an adult, she felt tricked and would not participate in such nonsense.
The Disney writers were exhausted of Travers' irritability. Tired of her mean, no-fun attitude, tired of her stingy control. But Travers just needed someone to break through her wall of protection. She needed someone who could see her value, to convince her it was okay, it would all be okay.
It took a man with undiluted persistence like Walt Disney to reach her. Dogged resolve, a man with a story similar to hers, a man who understands human weakness thriving among the remnants of high hope.
Disney and his team taught Travers that foolishness, high hopes and pretense was okay. Oh, it's not foolproof, it's not strong, it can fall apart. But it's Okay. It will be alright.
Travers was raised on sugar and was unprepared for the medicine of life, therefore she felt tricked and deceived when the medicine came. It took Disney and his team to convince her that you can have both a spoonful of sugar and your dose of medicine, the two can co-exist. In fact, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
OK, so maybe I'm projecting just a little bit. I'm just sayin'.....