Saving Mr. Banks, the John Lee Hancock faux-biopic concerning the creative clashes which occurred behind the scenes of Mary Poppins, premiered its first image not even a day ago, so it’s appropriate that the film has just received its first trailer as well. The trailer shows off a healthy amount of footage, establishing tone as well as the overarching plot involving production on the screen adaptation of P.L. Travers’ (Emma Thompson) beloved novel and her ceaseless efforts to alter Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) picture at every turn.
There’s a good amount of light-hearted comedy and warmth here – pretty much what one would expect from a film about Travers, Disney, and Mary Poppins. But the trailer also hints at the emotional “stuff” lying behind Travers’ book and her reticence to see it turned into a cartoonish Disney movie. Many viewers may be surprised to learn that the magical English nanny finds her roots in Travers’ difficult childhood; while the interactions between Hanks, who looks to be having a ball portraying Uncle Walt, and Thompson are front and center, it seems that the film may deal nearly as much with her background through flashbacks.
Packaged with the trailer is an interview with Hancock, who confirms that Saving Mr. Banks does indeed explore Travers’ young life and the birth of the Poppins character. It’s clear that he’s done a respectable amount of research heading into the film, as well; according to Hancock, Disney gave him open access to their archives and to the Disney Museum, and it sounds like he made full use of their generosity.
While Hancock is emphatic in his assertion that this isn’t a movie about Walt Disney, he nonetheless appears to be earnest in his mission to make the film as true to life as possible in each of its facets – including its depiction of Disney himself. Here’s the direct quote from the interview:
You know, if it were truly a biopic of Walt Disney, I would be concerned, because you have so many different masters to serve in a strange way; he lived such an interesting, complicated, creative life. But this is more the story of P.L. Travers. Walt Disney was an important supporting character in this, but it’s about her journey. All I was covering for Walt Disney is two weeks in 1961. I didn’t have the burden of an entire life. We have tons of information about those two weeks in 1961 so we could have a very fair portrayal without it being a Walt Disney biopic.
All of that said, it’s obvious from the trailer alone that Disney isn’t merely a supporting character in Saving Mr. Banks. Thompson may be the film’s protagonist, but based on the teaser, the central focus will be on the dynamic between her and Hanks. And why not? They’re Oscar-caliber talents, and it’s clear that the Mouse House sees Saving Mr. Banks as a real contender in the impending fall and winter awards season. We’ll have to see if they – and Hancock, an Oscar-winner himself – can measure up to expectations and do full justice to Disney, Travers, and Mary Poppins this December.
Saving Mr. Banks arrives in theaters December 13th, 2013.