Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks...and Ourselves

“… but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…” -Phil. 3:13 I don’t usually write about movies because I don’t want to spoil the plot for future viewers, but a movie I recently saw is worth revealing. One of the best movies out this new year is “Saving Mr. Banks,” which is about Walt Disney securing the rights to make the movie “Mary Poppins.” Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks, worked for years to get Pamela Travers, the author, to let him make a movie about Mary Poppins. As it turns out, she had deeper reasons for refusing to share the story. Most of us have deeper reasons for the things we do or don’t do. Not everything is worth analyzing, unless it keeps us from being genuine and honest about who we are and where we’ve been. The movie captures the journey of the author, Pamela Travers, in her self-discovery and freedom from her past. A key scene takes place towards the end of the movie after Pamela has left America and gone back to England following a falling out with Walt Disney. In London, Pamela settles back into her home, the one she can no longer afford. Later that night, there’s a knock on the door and Walt Disney is there. He requests she make him a pot of tea. They talk and Walt tells her she misjudges him- that she thinks of him as a Hollywood King Midas with an empire and Mary Poppins will be just another brick in his kingdom. He tells her, if this were the case, he wouldn’t have pursued her for 20 years. He tells her that Mary Poppins is real to his daughters, to thousands of children, and even adults. Walt apologizes to Pamela for letting her down and points out he, too, had a Mr. Banks but his had a mustache and it was his own father, who had a newspaper delivery route and employed a young Walt and his brother to work the cold winters. If he didn’t live up to his father’s standards, he would get beaten. He says he loves his father but he has days where he looks back and is tired of thinking of him in a negative light. He has to learn to finish the story differently, to let it all go and have a life that isn’t dictated by the past. He realizes now, as she hinted, that it’s not the children Mary Poppins comes to save but her father, Travers Goff. Her real name at birth was Helen Goff, but she changed her name to Pamela Travers. She must have loved him a lot to take his name. He now realizes all of her books were about him and encourages her to forgive. She says she doesn’t have to forgive her father, he was a wonderful man, but he says, no, she needs to forgive Helen Goff for giving herself a harsh sentence. He begins a monologue, telling her to trust her precious Mary Poppins with him and the audience will see Mr. Banks being saved and he can instill hope into the viewers. Pamela’s heart softens and changes and she agrees to let Walt Disney make the movie. The movie creates the new ending Pamela desired and everyone sees her dad as a man helping his kids fly their kite. It allows her to live a life that isn’t dictated by her past but is ruled by forgiveness. Pamela thought it was her job to fix her daddy and she needed to let go of the guilt she carried after he died. She needed to forgive herself. She needed to let it go. We need to keep our slate clean as well. If we’ve been wronged, forgive. If we’ve fallen short, forgive. If we’ve disappointed someone, forgive. It’s a choice we make. It’s a mind-set we take on, over and over and over again. We let the ending to the story of our past be ruled by the best, not the worst. We choose to see the best. We choose to save those we love… …and in doing so, we save ourselves. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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