This film has been languishing at the bottom of the digital pile in my Tivo since Christmas 2016 when it originally aired on the BBC. Why exactly it has taken so long for me to finally get around to watching it is quite beyond me, and there’s still a few more films sitting in that digital pile. Well, there you go- something else to concern myself about; not just a pile of physical-format films on disc that I have yet to see, I now have films waiting in my Tivo to be seen. As well as those films on my Amazon Prime watchlist. My world, it seems, is full of content waiting to be watched. It almost makes me yearn for the old days of three tv channels, no video recorders and lots of time free for reading and everything else that ‘normal’ lives were concerned with.
Televisions used to be mono, 4:3 and black and white. Now they are large widescreen stereo monsters that sit there demanding your time. Our eyes endlessly drawn to them, bewitched by them as if by some arcane spell. So many channels. So many films/discs//apps… on my Amazon fire-stick the other night I discovered some kind of ‘fireplace tv’ thing, a seasonal offering that was a single hour-long shot of a log-fire burning. I actually watched it for something like twenty minutes before I realised I was going mad.
None of which has anything to do with Saving Mr Banks, which I finally go around to watching having allowed it to sit in my Tivo over a year. And what do you know, I feel a bit of a fool having waited so long, because this was an utterly charming, warm and witty movie that I really enjoyed.
I do have a confession to make- the only Mary Poppins I have ever seen was General Leia doing her magical spaceflight in The Last Jedi. Other than a few clips many years ago on the old Disneytime holiday specials that the BBC used to air at Easter etc, I have never seen anything of Mary Poppins, certainly not the whole film, and I have no idea what the original story is. So maybe I was at some disadvantage watching Saving Mr Banks, which is ostensibly the story of how Walt Disney convinced author P L Travers to allow him to make the movie Mary Poppins.
Like, I suspect, the Netflix drama The Crown, this film is a work of fiction masquerading as fact, or at the very least, a dramatic work in which the line between fiction and fact is dimly blurred. Tom Hanks is a very genial, very charming Walt Disney and Emma Thompson a suitably cantankerous P L Travers albeit rather beautiful and charming.There it is again- the word ‘charming’: it’s as if the poster for the film should have read ‘Walt Disney presents Saving Mr Banks: Charming! Charming! Charming!’
But it is. And maybe there is more truth to the film than my old cynical soul would have me believe. Is it possible that all this actually happened and that there is far more to the original Mary Poppins story and movie than anyone would have believed? Maybe the simple truth is that it doesn’t matter. Saving Mr Banks, true story or Disney myth, is a great heartwarming (bypass that bloody word ‘charming’ for once) movie that is elegantly written and directed and really has a pretty great cast in top form. I could have looked it all up on the internet and discovered the truth of it, but really, I don’t care. Saving Mr Banks was really quite good. And ultimately, that’s all that really matters.
Besides, adult fairy tales, which is, I suspect, what this film really is, can be fact or fiction, it doesn’t have to mean anything or be validated by truth. It’s a damn fine story, regardless, and films could do with more of those, I think.
Now then, what else is lurking within my Tivo…?