Disney’s Delivers A Family Film Goers Early Xmas Gift with “Saving Mr. Banks”

Greetings everyone. I’m official back from hiatus, after focusing on photography and jornalisim for the last few months. I’d like to send a special welcome and thank you to all of you who are reading my blog for the first time. My blog, is different from most. I write not only as a lifelong fan of the entertainment industry, but as someone who was a child actor, an assistant in the industry and even as a manager. I currently work as a celebrity  photographer and journalist.

Movie studios and film lovers, are eagerly anticipating the pre-Christmas and Christmas Day release, of many new films this week. Disney’s latest film “Saving Mr. Banks,” which has been winning fans over on the film festival circuit opens  everywhere on today.

In November, I had the privilege of  covering the red carpet for opening night of AFI Fest 2013. “Saving Mr. Banks,” which was the opening night film of the festival. Even before I heard the film was going to be opening the festival, I had been eagerly anticipating the film since hearing about it. Growing up as a child, I never was a huge cartoon fan. My Saturday’s were spent watching the World Wrestling Federation (WWE) with my younger sister. I never saw “Fantasia” or many other Disney films, but  I was a fan of the theater and musicals. My first introduction  to “Mary Poppins” was the music. When I first saw the film I was amazed by the storyline. I also had never seen a film that used animation and live action together so well. My family never had a live-in caretaker like Mary, but we did have full time babysitters after my mom went back to work a few years after my sisters birth. My dad worked for publishing company Random House and would travel a lot. I was able to relate to and be touched by several elements of the film. I just recently watched the film again for the first time in about 20 years. The movie was ahead of it’s time. Mrs. Banks, was involved in the battle for women to vote, but was not independent enough herself to stand up to her husband. In the end Mary helps the Banks by not just taking care of the children but using their imagination. The film, still is one of my all time favorite children and family films.

“Saving Mr. Banks tells the behind the scenes story, of the making of Disney’s “Mary Poppins” film. Walt Disney had made a promise to his daughters that he would make a film based on their favorite book character. The film was based on the book “Mary Poppins” by P.L. Travers, and took over twenty years before the author would sign over rights for the film. “Saving Mr. Banks” chronicles the turbulent process of negotiations between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and the author (Emma Thompson).

AFI Fest 2013 – Opening Night Gala Screening of “Saving Mr. Banks” 

I arrived at the newly renovated Chinese Theatre, and saw a much smaller group of photographers waiting to check in compared to what would normally be at a Disney premiere. AFI which was handling the premiere did a great job with lighting and the set up. Besides having a smaller crop of photographers, there was also a smaller amount of guests walking the carpet. All of the stars from the film were there and walked the carpet. The first film stars who hit the red carpet were. B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman who played the Sherman Brothers who wrote the lyrics and music to “Mary Poppins.” Tom Hanks (Walt Disney) arrived and was in high spirits joking with some members of the press. Emma Thompson (P.L. Travers), looked stunning wearing a Roberto Cavalli Mona Lisa, red printed midi sheath dress. Emma was very press friendly as she was laughing and joking as she made her way down the press line. She seemed like a real down to earth person with an amazing personality.

After missing the film at AFI Fest and The Napa Film Festival, I was stoked when Cindy Maram, “Dig In Magazine” Founder/Editor-in-Chief, invited me to the see a screening of the film at Skywalker Ranch. The film wasted no time in getting right to the story. We learned that it has taken over 20 years of negotiations, before P.L. Travers agreed to let Walt Disney bring Mary to the big screen. Travers, arrives in Hollywood and immediately, buts heads with not only Disney, but everyone associated from the film. Travers, who is played magnificently by Emma Thompson, is adamant about there being no animation and is horrified when hearing there was going to be music in the film. Tom Hanks, who masterfully plays Walt Disney, brings heart to his character and shows a side of Walt we haven’t seen or heard before. We see Mr. Disney, as a father who never gave up on honoring a promise to his daughters to put their favorite book character on the big screen.

The film also highlights the struggle between the author and the films composers Richard (Jason Schwartzman) and Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak). There are some wonderful performances turned in also by Bradley Whitford and Rachel Griffiths. The one performance I was most pleasantly surprised by was turned in by Collin Farrell, who played the character inspired by Travers real life father, whom she lost as a child. We discover the reason Travers, didn’t want to have Mary changed or tarnished was because she was family. One of the most upsetting experiences she had while making the film was her frustration when Walt Disney thought Mary Poppins was supposed to save the children. When the reality was that Mary was there to save the father. Her father. The only downside was that I would have liked to have seen what her relationship with Julie Andrews, played by Victoria Summer (uncredited) was like.

The film “Saving Mr. Banks” is directed by “The Blindside” director John Lee Hancock. Just as he did in the “Blindside,” John does an amazing job of not just telling us about the characters, but making us care about them. He truly has become an amazing filmmaker. He brings heart to all the stories and characters. After the Q&A, I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Mr. Hancock. He is a truly nice and down to earth person. You could tell how much and how close to his heart this film was to him.

“Saving Mr. Banks”, is the perfect holiday film for the entire family to see and experience together. The film opens everywhere this Friday, December 20th. Get tickets now! http://www.fandango.com/savingmr.banks_159710/movieoverview

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About Jonathanshensa

I'm a Celebrity Event Photographer, producer and Screenwriter. I also worked with promoting bands and spent 5 years in music management. In my younger days, I was also an Actor, News reporter, DJ, and have worked at Talent, and Management companies. I love the mass media but also love to talk about everyday topics. I want to have a positive and creative impact on the entertainment business. http://jonathan-scott-shensa-photography.net/
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