Monday, July 15, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks

Helen Lyndon Goff was born in 1899 in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia. She had her first poems published when she was still in her teens, but what she really aspired to be was an actress, Thinking the name Helen Lyndon Goff was not the best one for a lady of the stage, she changed it to Pamela Lyndon Travers and, under this moniker, toured Australia and New Zealand with a Shakespearian company.

When she was 25, the family moved to England where she decided to devote all her time to writing, using the name P.L. Travers. In 1931, she and her good friend Madge Burnand moved out of their rented London flat into a thatched cottage in Sussex. It was here, two years later, she began to write the Mary Poppins books.

I’m betting most people, however, think of Mary Poppins as a movie from Walt Disney and not as a series of books by one P.L. Travers. It appears we will learn this Christmas how that transition came about.

I found it interesting that, at least twice in the above trailer, the Walt Disney character refers to her as "Mrs. Travers." From the information I have gathered about her, she was never married.

It also seems from these snippets that the Travers character doesn’t much care for the way Disney wants to adapt her books, especially some of the musical numbers. I don’t know what she thought about the music, although she did agree during the 1980s to let Mary Poppins be adapted as a stage musical (under the condition that no one involved in the film participated in the stage adaptation).

I do know she hated the movie (and the way Disney treated her during its production), so much so she refused to give Disney the rights to make any additional Mary Poppins movies. (She wrote four Mary Poppins novels. The movie was based mainly on the first one, although some elements of the second book, Mary Poppins Comes Back, were also used). What she hated the most were the animated sequences. She was not invited to the film’s premiere, but attended anyway and there she confronted Disney and told him he needed to get the animation out of the movie. As the story goes, he turned his back to her, walked away and then said to her over his shoulder, "Pamela, that ship has sailed."

You can’t tell from the trailer if all that will be in the film.

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