Monday, January 13, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks (A Disney Movie)

I saw the movie Saving Mr. Banks today. There was a point I sat upright and laughed. No one else did. That was a little disappointing, seeing that I was in a Central Florida theater.

Here’s the thing; in one scene of the movie, there was a map of the state of Florida placed prominently on the wall of his California offices. That made me laugh. I understand and appreciate the nod to my native state; however, Mr. Disney did not choose Florida for the supplement to Disney Land until 1964. Since that was the year of the original movie's release, the scenes in Saving Mr. Banks would have taken place in '62 or '63. At that time, Disney Land California cared little for the backwater swampland that was Florida.

My mother (a third generation Floridian) told me a great story about Disney, which I could neither verify nor deny. But share it I will...

Mr. Walt Disney and his entourage were scouting locales for the second Disney Park in the mid 1960's. The story goes that Louisiana had won the distinction in every way but paper. The local hob-nob dignitaries in that state were hosting Walt and company, when it was learned that no alcohol would be served in his park. They were flabbergasted. Once the initial shock wore off, they began teasing the California millionaire incessantly. Walt changed his mind. Not about the alcohol, about the locale. It’s told he left in the middle of the night. He came to Florida, and deciding to play his cards closer to the vest, secretly started buying up swampland and mineral rights in the central region of the state.

Thank you, Louisiana.

As for Saving Mr. Banks, Tom Hanks was superb. The ending was (How shall I put this?), a bit unbelievable. It is a Disney movie, to be sure. I will confess to having never read the actual books that featured the title character, Mary Poppins, by PL Travers. The original children's book was published in 1934, and by the time I was more than a twinkle in my daddy’s eye, the movie had been made by the Disney studios and was a smashing success.

I found most of the questions this movie left me with addressed in this single blog, Nine‘Mary Poppins’ facts ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ did not get right.

Floridians do have a love/hate relationship with Disney World. But, no one denies the genius that was Walt Disney. This movie sold him short, but at least they didn't vilify him (it is a Disney movie, in case you missed that part). After a little more research, I found the story of PL Travers' was oh-so-much more fascinating than presented. Do yourself a favor and check out the biographies of these two headstrong, incredibly driven people.

Saving Mr. Banks is a melancholy movie to be sure. Referring to it as “Based On A True Story” makes it all the more so.

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