Mary Poppins/Saving Mr. Banks
Say the words Mary Poppins to anyone born in the ‘60s or later, and they will probably either burst into song or reply: Aww, I loved that film! Oh yes, we all knew that it was based on a book by somebody named… Travers? But how many of us have actually read it? I certainly hadn’t. I had relied solely on Walt Disney for my spoonful of sugar, all elegantly administered by Julie Andrews.
Until last month, when I was enthralled by the new movie Saving Mr Banks, staring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as the Australian-British writer, Mrs. P. L. Travers. The Mary Poppins they were discussing seemed nothing like my all-singing-all-dancing Mary. Yet for over 20 years, Walt Disney personally invested a good deal of time and effort in persuading the highly reluctant Mrs Travers to allow him to make her plainly illustrated book into a major Technicolor film. Why? And who was Mrs Travers? That, it turned out, was a story in itself.
Film over, I dried my eyes and order a copy of the original book. The atmosphere is very different to the film. Mary Poppins is much more formidable and far less loveable than Disney’s Mary. Yet the wind still blows from the East. And Jane, Michael, John and Barbara really do need a Nannie.
I heartily recommend watching Saving Mr Banks and then reading the original first book in the series. I think you are in for an interesting treat before bedtime.
So hurry up! Spit-spot!
Passage from Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers.
“Where have you been?” they asked her.
“In Fairyland,” said Mary Poppins.
“Did you see Cinderella?” said Jane.
“Huh, Cinderella? Not me,” said Mary Poppins, contemptuously. “Cinderella, indeed!”
“Or Robinson Crusoe?” asked Michael.
“Robinson Crusoe – pooh!” said Mary Poppins rudely.
“Then how could you have been there? It couldn’t have been our Fairyland!”
Mary Poppins gave a superior sniff.
“Don’t you know,” she said pityingly, “that everybody’s got a Fairyland of their own?”