“Give her to me, Mrs. Travers. Trust me with your precious Mary Poppins. I won’t disappoint you. I swear that every time a person goes into a movie house, from Leicester to St. Louis, they will see George Banks being saved. They will love him and his kids, they will weep for his cares and wring their hands when he loses his job. And when he flies that kite, oh, they will rejoice! They will sing. In every movie house all over the world, in the eyes and hearts of my kids and of other kids and their mothers and fathers for generations to come, George Banks will be honored. George Banks and all he stands for will be redeemed. Maybe not in life, but in imagination.” – Walt Disney, Saving Mr. Banks
She’s polished and impeccably well-dressed, staunch and proper, poised, brilliant. With her elegantly curled hair and precisely applied lip stain, Mrs. P.L. Travers is practically perfect in every way.
But behind her “perfectly capable” self, as we watch her story unfold, we find a fragile-yet-resilient young girl trapped within an author who is trying very hard to re-write the stories of her past.
“Don’t lose me,” she says to her father in a flashback to a simpler time in her youth as they lounge on a bed of soft green grass. “Never,” he replies through a boozy grin.
As the movie rolls on, we follow Mrs. Travers on her journey with Walt Disney as she and his team try to negotiate film rights and an acceptable script. Eventually, and probably a bit to our surprise, we realize that we aren’t just following her story; we’re journeying with her in a parallel process as our own stories intersect hers along the way.
You see, Saving Mr. Banks isn’t just about Mary Poppins’ dramatic rise to the silver screen. Saving Mr. Banks is about stories. Saving Mr. Banks is about God’s story and its intersection with humanity’s individual stories.
Saving Mr. Banks brings to light humanity’s centuries-old need to have the darkness of our pasts saved, redeemed in some way. It reminds us that, in imagination, anything is possible. It reminds us that in God’s divine imagination, the ghosts of our past don’t have to be remembered as they are. It reminds us that at the heart of God’s story is a love that saves us and redeems our stories over and over again;
“because that’s what storytellers do. [Storytellers] restore order with imagination. [Storytellers] instill hope again and again. – Walt Disney, Saving Mr. Banks