This article appeared on the Disney Dads section of the Babble website under the title “Snubbing Mr. Banks…” It’s got a slightly different take but I thought my editor did a brilliant job and really tightened it up. Still, I thought it might be nice to see the article as I had originally published it (with a couple modifications that after reading it again I realized desperately needed the editing). But take a gander at the Disney Dads section on Babble and maybe peruse the other articles, too.
“You think Mary Poppins has come to save the children? Oh dear.”
Had to be the most impactful line of the movie for me. For anyone who hasn’t yet seen the movie Saving Mr. Banks, I’m not giving much away by sharing with you those words. It’s laid out in the title after all, and if you’ve read my previous Disney Dads article I talked about it there, too. Mary Poppins didn’t come to save the children. She came for Mr. Banks. Would that we all had someone who “popped” into our lives when we needed them the most? How much better would we be as parents?
Saving Mr. Banks is a delightful exploration into the backstory of one of Hollywood’s most endearing films, Mary Poppins. The original 1964 musical starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke – both Disney and film legends – went on to garner 13 Academy Award nominations on its way to winning five of them including Best Actress for Andrews and Best Original Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee” by the uber-talented Sherman Brothers. However, this was one of the most difficult films for Walt Disney to make. Pursuing the rights for twenty years, Disney never gave up because he had made a promise to his daughters to get this movie made.
“I have never, I swear, never broken a promise to either one of my Disney girls…That’s what being a daddy is all about right?”
For me, that quote by “Walt” is the essence behind Saving Mr. Banks – daddies and daughters. Specifically, the important role we play as parents in the lives of our children and how our actions take on a significance we can’t always imagine. We see how Walt’s father prompted Walt to be a very different father than his own and we see how Ginty’s father (P.L. Travers nickname as a child) crushed her heart by breaking promise after promise – the most important being to never lose his daughter. But he did lose her when he let the bottle become more important than his children. But it’s also why P.L. Travers invented the famous nanny; to save her father – all fathers really – from making the mistakes that will hurt their children.
If you love Disney and you’re a dad, you should see this movie. It will invite you to examine your own life and to rededicate yourself to your role as father of your children. A well-known pastor I very much respect once said (and I’m paraphrasing) that we shouldn’t sacrifice the role only we can play for the role that anyone can play. Only you will ever be your child’s father. Anyone can be the pastor or bank manager or CEO, but only you will be the father of your children. Being a parent is a great responsibility. I don’t need to tell you that. But it is. And part of that responsibility is the trust and love we are given by our children. Don’t we have an obligation to live up to that as best as we can? Most of us aren’t lucky enough to have a Mary Poppins in our lives, but maybe P.L. Travers will do in a pinch.