More than a battle of wills story, it's about Travers trying to save her cherished memories as well as her beloved characters
Saving Mr Banks Blu-ray Review
Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. And Saving Mr Banks certainly doesn’t!As has been established by now, the author of the world renowned Mary Poppins books, Pamela (P.L.) Travers was in discussion with Walt Disney for twenty years about adapting one of her books into a full colour motion picture. Travers was dismissive of the idea as she hated animation and held her characters extremely close to her heart. However, she eventually relented and signed over the rights to one book (after she was given script control) and spent two weeks at the Disney studios to develop said script and tried, as it happens, in vein, to curtail the treatment of her beloved characters. Saving Mr Banks is a fictionalised re-telling of this two week period.Anyone who has seen the BBC’s Culture Show special “The Private Life of PL Travers” will know just how fictionalised the events that are depicted in the film really are; indeed the presenter Victoria Coren-Mitchell was visibly upset by the treatment of the character particularly the reconciliation of the film elements at the end. However, that is not to say the events as depicted do not make for a good film, and indeed, as its various awards and nominations have shown, Saving Mr Banks is a triumph. With genuinely moving performances from Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks who take the titular roles and a story that uses flashbacks to Travers’ childhood as she comes to terms with her past make for emotionally investing material that one cannot help but be swept along by.
Saving Mr Banks has a big heart and is as much about Travers saving her cherished memories as it is about saving her book characters.
Saving Mr Banks Blu-ray Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.4:1 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and is Region free.
You’d expect nothing less than perfection from Disney, and that’s what you have here. Detail is stunning right from the closest skin texture to the furthest bushland in Australia, from the line work on the music sheets to the Los Angeles landmarks; each is perfectly well defined, clean, clear and precise with no smudging, smearing or softening anywhere to be seen.
You’d expect nothing less than perfection from Disney, and that’s what you have here.
Colouring is given a slight push towards the warmer hues, especially in the outback sections, but all the primaries are suitably bold and vibrant. Reds are strong, greens come across as bright and lush while blues are cool. Flesh tones are slightly ‘Hollywood orange’ but I was expecting that with this release.
Brightness and contrast are set to give deep strong blacks that add some decent depth and punch to the frame. Night scenes and scenes set in the dark interiors of the outback are rendered with superb clarity and deep blacks that contain plenty of shadow detail when needed.
Digitally there are no compression problems, no edge enhancement, no aliasing or posterisation. The original print is as clean as a whistle, as such a big budgeted, modern studio should be – nines all round.
Saving Mr Banks Blu-ray Sound QualityJust the one track to choose from: English dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and much like the picture never puts a foot wrong. The track is mostly about ambiance and dialogue with no bombastic effects to fly around the room; so it concerns itself with realism and does so extremely well. Take, for example, a simple short scene with Travers stowing a bag in an overhead locker on a plane – the chatter of people, the hustle and bustle of agitated passengers with the movements of the stewardesses are all present and correct to engulf you in the realism of the situation. Take the Sherman brothers regaling Travers with one of their (many) tunes, how the reverb in the small studio makes you feel like you are inside the room with them; it’s excellent. Move then to the outback where wind, or horses, or the general hubbub of the outdoors makes you feel you are right there, getting dusty and hot with the on screen action.
The surround track and much like the picture never puts a foot wrong.
Dialogue is clean and precise, very natural sounding and dominated by the frontal array. Stereo effects, such as the above mentioned, are used well and the surrounds are in constant use to keep the ambience of the piece high. Bass is well realised and adds some excellent undercurrent, though there are no LF effects as such, the sub is kept very happy by grounding everything well. The score makes full use of the speakers with the Sherman’s songs being of particular delight. A terrific natural sounding score.
Saving Mr Banks Blu-ray ExtrasDeleted Scenes – Three deleted scenes (all finished) titled Stargaze (a little tender moment between Travers’ Australian parents), Nanny Song (The Sherman’s present another song to Travers’ dismissal) and Pam Leaves (Walt catches Travers just after she walks out after their last argument). Most are unnecessary (especially the latter too which slow pace and, in the case of the last, detract from later scenes) but the first would have been nice to show some actual niceties between the parents.
The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to Present – Fascinating little documentary looking at how much has changed and how much has stayed the same at the Disney Studios where a large portion of the film took place, plenty of archive material and interviews with staff and crew.
Let’s Go Fly a Kite – Looks to be a wrap song with the real Richard Sherman playing the iconic song to a lot of the crew and they rapturously join in.
Is Saving Mr Banks Blu-ray Worth BuyingSaving Mr Banks tells a fictionalised story about the true events surrounding PL Travers’ two week visit to the Disney Studios where she collaborated towards the script of one of her Mary Poppins books, that would eventual become one of Disney’s most cherished films – Mary Poppins. Whilst much of the dramatic tension (regarding the signing over of the rights), antagonistic nature and final reconciliation with the film are pure fiction, the film does hit all the right notes with regard its characters and the emotional investment with them. Both Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, playing Travers and Disney respectively, give outstanding performances and the story is structured in such a way (using flashbacks to demonstrate Travers’ coming to terms with her childhood) that we, the audience, become swept along with the sheer magnetism of the picture. We empathise and feel the highs and lows of this roller-coaster ride, a fact that the Academy Awards also reciprocated. More than a battle of wills story, Saving Mr Banks, is about Travers trying to save her cherished memories as much as she is trying to protect her beloved characters, and here is where the heart of the film lies. .
Emotionally absorbing and thoroughly entertaining, Saving Mr Banks is well worth your time.
As a Blu-ray package Disney have bestowed a terrific set in terms of picture and sound, both of which are reference in quality; the picture is bold and vibrant with strong blacks and superb depth to the frame, while the sound uses the surround environment to very realistic effect. The extras are a little thin on the ground, I’d have liked to have seen something on the true events, however what we do have are watchable and not promotional fluff.
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