The Outback, and how the wild things wereFebruary 17, 2017

"Saving Mr. Banks" was almost a one-dimension portrayal of Walt Disney and Pamela Lyndon Travers when the two were negotiating about the adaptation of Mary Poppins to the big screen. Walt Disney Studios produced it, so the producers could be forgiven for diluting the harsher aspects surrounding it. P.L. Travers, for instance, grew up in Allora. It was a small farming community in Queensland, yet it wasn't hard to visualise the imposing image of the Outback during the turn of the 20th century. Travers relocated to this part of Oz when she was five years old, and the arid landscape didn't turn her into a hard-to-please adult that the film depicted her.

Mary Poppins came up from the stories that the young author shared with her older sisters. Anyone familiar with the series could guess that Travers had her share of painful moments in her younger years. She may have sensed her father's shame after his alcoholism prompted his superiors to demote him (from bank manager to bank clerk). He was unable to swear it off, which caused his early death. It wasn't hard to imagine the younger Travers to be a sensitive, gentle soul, whose father's downfall led to her transformation into a hardened woman. The climate may have some part in it, even her early start in her literary career in colder London.

Some won't have a clue that Mary Poppins originated from Down Under, even learning her first dance steps from the kangaroos. The author tried to put her struggling childhood behind her, yet the memories were embedded in her subconscious self. And she unintentionally revealed it all during the penning of the draft. On the other hand, Walt Disney was known to be a shy chap, who warmed up to his dream of providing entertainment and fun to young and old ones alike. Don't be surprised if he shared some common traits with Steve Jobs, as building a Disney Empire required more than business savvy and passion. The could be a ruthless side behind his gentle appearance, and it would be possible that he showed less patience with the likes of Travers. Nonetheless, Americans would overlook it. (Success is a fabric of the American system.)

There was irony behind the screenplay of "Saving Mr. Banks", as it illustrated how Hollywood steamrolled writers like Travers. This could be the reason behind her resentment towards Disney, and how she gave her blessings to British producers and artists (in adapting her works). Some thought that Travers could have given Disney a break, as he rather saw the other side of the series. After all, Disney had a soft spot for the young at heart. Director John Lee Hancock shared this sentiment, as the outcome was more important than the process. And more moviegoers won't mind a loose adaptation of a written material (or a biography for that matter).

There was a gentle side to Walt Disney, which Tom Hanks figured out before production. As P.L. Travers, Emma Thompson showed the quirky side of her personality. The outcome was a poor attempt at recreating the old-fashioned screwball comedy, as there won't be any fireworks between them. Travers seemed to have reservations about Julie Andrews (playing Mary Poppins) or she couldn't get off her mind the animated aspects of the celluloid version of her book. If she took it personally, then it had something to do with where she came from. There was no place like home (or where the wild things were).

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