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A Lit Major At The Movies

A Lit Major At The Movies: Saving Mr Banks (2013)

Saving Mr BanksReal-life stories are rarely as satisfying as made-up ones. This is, of course, a well-known fact. Life has a pesky habit of rejecting the basic tenets of any successful narrative, from plot and pacing to character.

Hardly surprising, then, that Disney’s 2013 film, Saving Mr. Banks, leans heavily to the side of fiction, rejecting the realities of life in an effort to turn the real story of the author P.L. Travers’ work with the folks at Disney to produce a movie version of her beloved book, Mary Poppins, into something lucrative.

As has been pointed out, inaccuracies (or, rather, blatant fictions) are rife in Saving Mr. Banks. Because it’s Disney, and because it’s the sort of film that parents need to be able to watch with their kids, there’s very little complexity to this movie.

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A Lit Major At The Movies

A Lit Major At The Movies: Mary Poppins (1964)

MaryPoppinsDisneyA few months ago I was supposed to read P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins, and then watch the film version. Well, I did one but not the other, so I’m here today to rectify that in a new segment that I like to call A Lit Major At The Movies, because I’m really not very creative when it comes right down to it.

Dancing penguins, nonsense words, and long song-and-dance numbers; it’s just typical mid-century fare from Disney. As a child I frequently saw advertisements for Mary Poppins. I knew how to say ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ as well as the next kiddie, and knew all I could ever care to know about A Spoon Full of Sugar, thank you very much.

So it’s hardly surprising that when I finally came to watch this film, so much of it felt familiar to me. From the sparkle in Julie Andrews’ eye to the weird cartoon landscapes and animated characters – there was a part of me that felt like I had seen it all before. And while there were parts of the film that were enjoyable (the chimneysweeps’ dance on the rooftops was a particular highlight), as an adaptation the film was more or less a complete failure.

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Mary Poppins (1934), by P.L. Travers

marypoppinsThis book is #99 on my Classics Club list and #4 on my Back to the Classics list for 2014.

Well, hello! I do hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas, filled with all sorts of pleasant things. I’m here with a review (finally) of the last book on my Back to the Classics list. After a year with a number of grim reads – All Quiet on the Western Front and Nineteen Eighty-Four, to name just a few – I was glad to finally reach this point. Mary Poppins seemed like the perfect book to end with, promising fun, laughs, and a little magic.

I’m sure that the character of Mary Poppins is familiar to many, thanks to fond childhood memories of Julie Andrews, magic umbrellas, and… dancing hippos? Or was it ostriches? I forget. My sole exposure to the Disney film was a trailer at the beginning of my video copy of The Lion King. At the time, Simba and Nala seemed to me to be infinitely more interesting companions than a singing nanny with a funny hat. Perhaps partly because I didn’t really know what a nanny was yet, and the animated African plains seemed much more interesting than London’s rooftops.