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Saving Mr. Banks


mr banks

Yesterday evening I watched one of the best movies I have seen in a long while. On a whim, I kept a notebook with me and wrote down thoughts about the movie as it played. The (true) story is about an aging English spinster, P.L. Travers, working with Walt Disney in the 1960’s to hash out a screenplay adaptation to her famous children’s book, “Mary Poppins.”

Superficially, much of the initial enjoyment is to be found in the clash of styles and personalities: her staid, reserve, very stodgy and very British, against Walt Disney’s plainspokenness and genial warmth.

But as the film goes on, it quickly becomes apparent that Mrs. Travers’ reluctance to allow Disney to adapt her book isn’t a mere fear of him making a vulgar movie, but rather that he will change the essence of Mary Poppins, and will miss the subtlety of why she really came to visit the Banks family: “She didn’t come to save the children–she came to save the father.”

This idea, that of a double-purpose, resonates deeply with us a people. In the Christian life, we see it all around: God gives us children, and yes, we should raise them rightly in Him, but for our sakes as much as theirs. God allows hardship or trials, and yes, we should work to secure employment, or help various friends in need, but the real beneficiaries are us.

Or rather than calling this phenomenon a double-purpose, maybe it is more accurate simply to realize that all of life, our every action is subtended by a deeper spiritual truth, that “all is not as it seems.”



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