Tonight for one of my friend’s 30th birthday, part of the festivities was going to see a movie. Originally we were meant to see The Hobbit, and thanks to the pleading and no no no from his wife, we decided to see Saving Mr Banks instead. For those not in the know, the film follows the life of author P.L Travers as she goes through the motions of signing her novel rights of the book Mary Poppins to Walt Disney to make it into the film that we all remember from our childhood Mary Poppins.
Mrs Travers (as she likes to be called) is a tough old thing, she is very protective of her writing and characters and doesn’t want the story to turn into a typical Disney cartoony feature. She spends 20 years going back and forth with the rights before she actually agrees to come to America and look over scripts and hand over the rights. She is intricate in every decision made about these characters, down to the way they look, they act, where they live, what the house looks like. One of the characters announces about this “Does it matter?” and while people watching this laugh and agree, I couldn’t help but sit there and answer back “yes it fucking does!”
To anyone who is not a creative person, this woman looks like a crazy, unsociable bitch, but to me she looks like an incredibly gifted and talented writer who knew her characters inside out, she knew what they wore, how they acted, where they would live, what it would look like and clung them so close to her chest, for anyone to suggest anything different would just be ridiculous. As a writer I understand and relate to this whole heartedly.
The family is based on her own as a child, as the story of the Mary Poppins moves along, so does the back story about her childhood, a horrific and troubled one at that. Some of the stories I have written have family members and friends in them and I would feel exactly the same about someone coming in and changing them around.
After the film (and I was done crying and wiping up my tears) I got to thinking about the high amount of book turned into movie that litter our screens these days. I had to sit down and think did all these book authors have the same amount of scrutiny or do they just sign away on the dotted line, accept their large cheque and write their next book?
The amount of atrocious and abysmal book to film adaptions I have seen in the last 10 years, I could not help but feel that this must be the case 9 times out of 10, and what about authors that are deceased and not here to oversee their works being reinvented for a new generation, would they approve? What does that leave of their legacy if the wrong message is being relayed?
Apart from being an amazing movie, it also helped me a lot as a writer, and spurred me to keep going with my creative works (some of which I may end up posting here for your reading pleasure at some stage!) one of the lines that stuck out to me from this film was “As writers we create the world that makes sense to us, we make things how we see them, not as they are and this is how we survive.”