If you love children’s books the way I do, especially classic children’s fantasy, you’ll be interested in this movie trailer: http://io9.com/if-youve-ever-hated-the-movie-version-of-a-book-watch-747675200
Emma Thompson plays the fantastic P.L. Travers in this true (or mostly true) story about how the movie Mary Poppins was made. So you know, Mary Poppins is very high on my list of favorite children’s books that bear no resemblance to their movie versions. The movie gets a great big blech for singing, dancing, and cutesy animation. If you’ve read the books, you know there’s nothing cutesy about Mary Poppins.
Watching this trailer, it seems Emma Thompson is made for this role (though I honestly know very little about Travers).
If you haven’t read any of the Mary Poppins books, and most people haven’t, they are gloriously sarcastic, witty, biting, and NOT sentimental. Well, not really. They are also as magical as Oz or Harry Potter or any of the other fantasy worlds we love so much. Mary is an absolute enigma, and as a child she sort of scared the pants off me a little bit — and that’s what I love about her.
Saving Mr. Banks comes out this December. What’s exciting about this movie is it really explores how a great children’s series was written, and the pitfalls of making great children’s books into movies. On the flip side, however, I’m worried the message of this movie is “but wasn’t the movie version great and aren’t you glad after all it was so much more heartwarming than the books?”
Unfortunately, this is a film made by Disney, with the world’s most loveable man, Tom Hanks, playing Disney. So I hope, hope, hope this is a movie about how great these books are, and not about how great Disney was – but I doubt it. I do trust Emma Thompson but I’m not sure that will be enough. Travers hated the movie adaptation of her book and didn’t feel she was well treated by Disney. Can we trust a Disney movie to tell the real story?
I love movies that are about how great books are written, like Finding Neverland and Shakespeare in Love (even if fictional). What I don’t like are movies that simplify or romancify my favorite books.
If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to read and reread some of my favorite Mary Poppins books (there are eight altogether). I ordered the first three books this morning. And, I learned two things about P.L. Travers: one, she was born in Australia, and two, she started out as an actress. How awesome is this photo of Travers from the 20’s?