I went to see Saving Mr. Banks over the weekend, the story of Walt Disney, P.L. Travers and the adaptation of her books into the movie Mary Poppins. I sat down with the boys earlier in the week and watched Mary Poppins so everything was fresh in my head.
The movie is fabulous and I highly recommend it to everyone. It made me cry and laugh and if it wasn't for the oppression and the Cold War and the lack of general rights, I would love to go back to the glory days of Disney when Walt himself walked the grounds. To be there to hear the music for some of the great Disney musicals when it was fresh and new.
Part of the movie is looking at P.L. Travers's childhood, specifically her relationship with her father. He is portrayed as a man of whimsy, constantly indulging in games of fantasy and play with his children. He's also a drunk.
It made me think how often those two qualities are portrayed together in Hollywood. It's as if there must be a balance for the whimsy. It is invariably a dark side which renders any lighthearted amusement into fading dreams in the face of horrid brutality.
There's probably some truth to that. Those sensitive enough to retain childlike wonder and sensibilities are likely to be continually scarred by the harsh realities of the world. And some of them will undoubtedly turn to chemical buffers. Once in the throes of addiction, the wonderful side of their personalities isn't enough to make the darkness worthwhile or acceptable.
But wouldn't it be wonderful to see a parent who loves their children and is whimsical and fanciful without being irresponsible or high as a kite? I have to believe there are a few out there somewhere. We don't tend to see them outside of children's stories, probably because adults like to have a little more meat with their drama.
I'm tempted to see if our local library has copies of the Mary Poppins books. When Travers describes Mary as someone who prepares the children for the harsh realities of life, that is so completely contrary to what I know that I wonder if it's accurate. Or is it something which readers would recognize as untrue, the same as if I heard Tolkien describe Lord of the Rings as a fanciful exploration of gardening techniques.
Regardless, I'm still humming the songs and I've regained a new respect for both the movie and the character of Mr. Banks.