Monday, January 13, 2014

Who was Helen Lyndon Goff?

Helen Lyndon Goff was a young girl, growing up in the outback of Australia who later transformed herself into an imaginative and legendary writer who created the stories around the famous character of “Mary Poppins.”  She moved later on to London and as P.L. Travers, she wrote several works even though only one ended up in the Disney film and the musical of Mary Poppins.

Pamela Lyndon Travers’ story is portrayed in the recent movie “Saving Mr. Banks.”

The movie goes back into Helen’s childhood in Queensland where she grows up as the oldest of three sisters.  Her dad is a banker but falls short of his services to his job since he drinks a lot.  Helen adores him, and he adores her but she is confused when she discovers her Dad’s drinking habits.  He supports her imagination and encourages her to believe in herself.

In the meantime we are taken into her later life as a writer.  She lives in London and has written several stories about Mary Poppins, a nanny who flies in with the wind of the East.  She is described as being "practically perfect in every way."  She is also very stern but at the same time loving and nurturing.  She also has magical abilities, as she can transport herself and objects to other places and talk to the animals.

Walt Disney has been pursuing P.L. Travers for 20 years to give up the rights to the story for him to create a movie.

As the story goes, Mrs. Travers travels to Los Angeles to meet with Walt Disney and his team of script writers and music composers to once again convince Mrs. Travers to sign off the rights to the movie.  She agrees somewhat under very demanding conditions which puts the whole Disney studio under tremendous pressure.

“That’s what we do, we storytellers. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope, again and again and again.”
~ Walt Disney

Why is the movie called “Saving Mr. Banks?”

In the Mary Poppins books, Mr. Banks is the patriarch of the family who is so obsessed with his working life that he doesn't have much time for his children. Travers believed that Mary Poppins came to the Banks family to save Mr. Banks from his unfulfilled life and to make him realize that family was his real priority. Travers' father was a bank manager who died when he was in his 40s of alcohol-related diseases. Travers, in turn, wished she could have saved her father from his own demons.

Walt is right about that, when he persuades the cranky author to loosen up by assuring her that their collaboration will make her work, and her long-lost father, immortal. 

“Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious! Mary Poppins was right, it’s extraordinary! It does make you feel better! Hee hee hee hee!”
~ George W. Banks

Who is Mary Poppins?

Mary Poppins is a fictional character who reminded the author of her great aunt Ellie who came to their home, after her father had passed away.  She is a very no-nonsense person whose favorite words were: "Spit spot into bed!"

Great Aunt Ellie also carried a carpet bag, and she would often instruct children in etiquette and other niceties. Mary Poppins has many other interesting things up her sleeves.  

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and - SNAP - the job's a game!”
~ Mary Poppins
The Disney Magic

If you have seen the movie “Mary Poppins” you will agree that the Disney team truly created magic with its cartoon characters, the catching tunes of the songs interwoven into the story of the Banks family.

“Saving Mr. Banks” is storytelling at its best where filmmaking is classic and engaging the viewer into healing family trauma.

Thanks to Walt Disney’s persuasion Mrs. Travers not only solves her financial troubles but also heals some of her own wounds in relationship with her dad (Mr. Banks).

One blogger, Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., in her review of the movie went as far as calling the account a story of redemption and hope.
Other reference sites:

I truly enjoyed watching “Saving Mr. Banks.”  I am very partial to movies in historical fiction. To me, it was worth 2 hours in the theater.




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