Author on big screen

FROM Maryborough to Hollywood, a new movie is set to chart the dramatic life of Mary Poppins author Pamela Lyndon Travers, and her heartbreak over the film adaptation of her books.

Called Saving Mr Banks, the film will focus on the battleTravers waged against the "Disney-fication" of her novels, which she claimed betrayed her original stories and led to a production she described as "all fantasy and no magic".

British actress Emma Thompson is in negotiations to play Travers, who was born Helen Lyndon Goff in Maryborough in 1899 and created the beloved magical nanny in the 1930s.

Tom Hanks is in discussions to join the cast as Walt Disney, who worked for 14 years to persuade a reluctant Travers to allow his company to produce the 1964 Mary Poppins movie.

As shown in the movie, Travers eventually agreed to a $100,000 payment plus 5% of the film's gross, as well as script approval - which was practically unheard of at the time.

She insisted there should be no animation in the movie and harassed the scriptwriters demanding changes, until relations soured to the extent that she was not invited to the premiere - although she turned up anyway after securing her own ticket.

The title of the new film, Saving Mr Banks, is a reference to attempts by the Disney scriptwriters to remove the character of the father, which was one of a swathe of changes suggested to make the plot more palatable for American audiences.

Although Mr Banks eventually remained in the storyline, Travers was unable to prevent other alterations such as turning Mrs Banks into a suffragette, and making the family wealthier than in the books.

The original film starring Julie Andrews was a huge critical and commercial success, but Travers was so appalled by the adaptation that she sobbed all the way through the opening night.

She was never able to overcome her bitterness towards Disney despite becoming rich from the film royalties, and refused to ever work with the company again.

Travers later agreed to a Mary Poppins stage musical on the single proviso that no Americans were allowed to be involved with the production.

Saving Mr Banks is expected to be released in 2014.

Topics:  mary poppins movie

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