Wednesday, January 01, 2014
Saving Mr. Banks
I've mentioned several times that Mary Poppins is the first film I ever saw on the big screen and it ignited my lifelong love affair with going to the movies. I remember the big, heavy red curtains opening to reveal the rooftops of London. And that was when the magic started. Mary Poppins slid up banisters, went to tea parties on the ceiling, jumped into a chalk painting, and descended from the skies holding an umbrella with a talking parrot handle.
We saw it as a family downtown, which was a huge ass big deal at the time. The Loop was only a half hour away from our suburban home, but my father was allergic to making the drive. The city offered too much traffic, too much diversity. And yet I wanted so badly to see it. The commercials and promotions during Wonderful World of Disney had enchanted me. I was one obsessed little girl, and so my parents went out of their way to make the movie happen and give me such an important memory. (Of course, my dad -- being my dad -- had to make it toxic. It had started to rain and he was upset that there was no parking available in front of the theater. I had caught sight of the marquee and had begun bouncing around in excitement. For once my enthusiasm trumped his negativity.)
So the slow, inevitable reveal that P. L. Travers felt Mary Poppins, the magic nanny, arrived at the Banks home not to rescue the children but instead their father had real resonance with me. I wish my father had enjoyed his family more, had enjoyed his life more. I admit I cried more than once during the conversations about the "Let's Go Fly a Kite" number.
Then there's the character of Mrs. Travers herself. She reminds me so much of the cousin I visited last month in Tampa! So little interested her, so little made her happy."I couldn't care less" was the phrase she snapped out over and over and over again.
I don't want to end up like my dad or my cousin. I want to hang onto to my warmth and humor and humanity.
Maybe I need to fly a kite.