Viewing ‘Mr. Banks,’ ‘Mary Poppins’

I recently watched the Oscar-nominated film “Saving Mr. Banks,” which was about the making of the Disney movie “Mary Poppins.”

I also watched the 40th anniversary edition of “Mary Poppins,” which my aide Shannon was nice enough to bring and watch with me.

We watched “Saving Mr. Banks” first, which gave us a background story to the “Mary Poppins” movie. I had no idea why it was named for “Mr. Banks,” nor who that person was. At that point Shannon and Herman looked at me dumbfounded. I have never seen many of the classic Disney movies, including this one. It was a big education for me, watching these two films.

Overall, there is a good feeling about changing ones’ perspective on life in general in “Saving Mr. Banks.” This is the theme that was carried out in “Mary Poppins” as well.

The “Mr. Banks” that needed saving in the Oscar-nominated film was actually the character meant to symbolize P.L. Travers’ father, although the character of Mr. Banks was very different from the flashback memories that Travers, played by Oscar-nominated Emma Thompson, has in the movie. Children’s book author Travers’ memories of her father included a much more tragic and complicated figure than that of Mr. Banks in “Mary Poppins.”

When Thompson’s character protests so vehemently about the animation and song-and-dance sequences portrayed in the Disney movie, it is because the “Mary Poppins” books were based on her own life and the awful situation her family was in when her aunt, the apparent model Travers based the Poppins character on, showed up when the family was so in need.

I grew up watching “The Dick Van Dyke Show” as well as Julie Andrews’ portrayal of Maria in “The Sound of Music.” The song and dance sequences in “Mary Poppins” are a real treat.

Tom Hanks’ underrated portrayal of Walt Disney was not only outstanding, it gave a much more human look at the icon in American entertainment and also told about his abusive father, which I never knew about before this movie.

After seeing these two movies, I’d like to see more of the Disney classics I missed as a child, because these ones were such a treat.

Since so many of you have probably seen “Mary Poppins,” unlike me, I especially want to recommend seeing “Saving Mr. Banks,” which gives much more insight into the serious background of the books and movie that have become so iconic.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website, www.kathrynskorner.com.