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 Saving Mr. Banks  

Theme: Salvation

Walt Disney Pictures’ new release Saving Mr. Banks is ostensibly the story of how Walt Disney acquired the rights to P.L. Travers children’s classic Mary Poppins. As such it is an entertaining story of a cranky British author going head to head with the powerful king of animated films before finally signing over the rights to her book.

However at its heart the movie tells a very different story. Saving Mr. Banks could easily be subtitled Saving P.L. Travers. This is the story of how a perfectionistic, lonely, isolated, wounded woman; trapped in a childhood narrative, is surrounded, saved and set free by a community of people who simply love her story.

End of the Line

The opening scenes tell you two parallel stories will be told; one taking place in 1961 Los Angeles California, the other in 1906 Allora Australia. The lead character is P.L. Travers author of Mary Poppins and her younger self Helen "Ginty" Goff. Her story begins at the "end of the line"; Allora is the destination her family travels to after her father loses his job. It is 325 miles away, the very end of the railroad line. Dry, desolate and run down Allora is a metaphor for the emptiness of Ginty’s father as he slowly succumbs to the alcoholism which is killing him and destroying his family.

End of the line for P.L.Travers is a long flight from her beautiful London home to Los Angeles California. A dry desolate place that to her smells like chlorine and sweat. She has been reduced to such a place because like her father she too is out of money. Finding herself at the mercy of King Midas Walt Disney and hating every moment; she sees her present circumstances through the lenses of the past; reliving her father’s failure, untimely death, and her inability to save him.

Trapped in a Small Story

P.L.Travers created her Mary Poppins stories based upon her own family. Being the author she had perfect control and could always make everything turn out right. Releasing "the rights" of Mary Poppins to Disney means someone else can not only tamper with her fictional characters but with her family members as well. This is the great tension throughout the film. With each new scenario the Walt Disney team (Disney, Don DaGradi, and Sherman Brothers) comes up with for the movie, P.L. Travers is thrown back in time to some incident in her painful childhood.

Into Her Wound



Travel to Los Angeles

Travel to Allora

Introduction to Disney Team

Memory of Father and Horse

Making demands & disliking script

Father drinking and being fired

"Tupence in the Bank" song

Father’s speech and fall

Making a "Bandstand by the lake"

Saving Mother in lake

Disneyland: "Where did she come from?"

Arrival of Aunt Ellie

New end of movie "Let’s go fly a kite"

Rewrote poem for father... went to get pears

Animated penguins / betrayal

Death of Father / dropping of pears

A Life Sentence

The climax of the film comes when Walt Disney arrives at P.L.Travers’ London home. He has realized the woman he thought he was dealing with, P.L. Travers, is really Helen Goff. By taking a name her father called her one day, Pamela, and combining it with his first name Travers, she became Pamela Travers. She left her own name and story in order to try and redeem her father’s. Walt asks her "Aren’t you tired of remembering it that way? It’s not the children that need saving, it’s their father---your father Travers Goff."

What is the way out of her childhood narrative-----forgiveness. She needs to forgive Helen Goff. Disney tells her "Life is a harsh sentence to lay down". She has held herself captive in a false narrative trying to perfect a world and please a man that long ago passed away, leaving her alone, isolated and disconnected from life.


The movie concludes three years later. Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins is about to have its premiere in Los Angeles. In order to protect the film Disney does not invite the difficult Travers; but she comes anyway! Ralph the driver (the only friend she made on her previous trip) takes her to the premiere. "Remember now none of this would have been possible without you" he tells her. She is escorted to her seat by none other than Mickey Mouse whom she has reluctantly grown fond of.

Walt Disney made Travers a promise in England. "If you trust me I’ll make a good ending. George Banks will be honored, redeemed, and saved." Surrounded by her Disney team Pamela Travers/ Helen Goff sees the whole new redeeming story unfold. Her tears are tears of joy. Walt Disney kept his promise. The great storyteller restored order and instilled hope and redeemed George Banks. In doing so he brought joy to millions and set Pamela Travers free.

Winds in the East….Mist coming in……Like something is brewing ….about to begin

Can’t put my finger…..on what lies in store….but I feel like what’s to happen….all happened before

Oh yes it has! The story of Saving Mr. Banks follows the biblical pattern of Beauty (Creation)…Affliction (Fall) and Redemption.

Every person is trapped in their own small story; a story like Ginty’s that ends in death. Many people spend a lifetime trying to rewrite their own story creating their own narrative like Pamela Travers did. But the only way out of the fallen narrative is forgiveness. By receiving the forgiveness of God one can sign over "the rights" to their own story, giving the King of all Kings the permission to write a new ending. He has signed the new contract in the blood of His Son Jesus Christ, and the promise that will never be broken is He makes all things new (Revelation 21:5)!

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