As I write this article 2013 is winding down and 2014 is waiting to push open the gate and make its entrance. It’s the time of “Top __________________ of 2013” lists covering pretty much every subject. One of those is movies. Likely one that won’t make the top of that list, and won’t make many lists at all, is the recently released “Saving Mr. Banks.”
I’ve always been a fan of musicals. There, I said it. I’m “out.” My manhood is not threatened in the least by this admission. It probably goes back to growing up in San Antonio listening constantly to 45 and LP records, as well as KTSA and KONO AM radio. Then moving to FM. Then to 8-tracks (my ’64 Ford Falcon station wagon had no floorboard in the back seat but it had a killer 8-track stereo), cassettes, CDs, yes and now iTunes. Taking up drums in band and a little guitar along the way certainly fed that love of music.
So it was no surprise that “Saving Mr. Banks” was a movie I wanted to see sometime, being the “prequel” sort of to “Mary Poppins.” In this movie we get to see a fictionalized-but-based-on-truth account of the behind-the-scenes work that made the transition from book to movie happen.
What was surprising is that for Joyce and me it was one of the best movies we’ve seen in a long time. And what was even more surprising was why it meant so much to us.
The thing that moved me in this movie was the realization that the original movie could also have been titled, “Saving Mr. Banks.” Yes, Mary Poppins accomplished her purpose in going to the home of Jane and Michael Banks. But it wasn’t the children she went there to save.
In watching this movie I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the younger ones among us (though granted they were VASTLY outnumbered in the full theater where we were.) It would be hard, almost impossible I think, for them to fully appreciate this movie. The decades of experience with Mary Poppins and Bert and George and Winifred and Jane and Michael and their story is an essential part of fully appreciating that. But I do think that they can to an extent. Because, like Jane and Michael, they too have imperfect parents.
I think what makes others of us appreciate it on an even greater level is that yes, we all had imperfect parents. But what’s different for those of us who are older is this: We have been imperfect parents. We have been imperfect friends. We have been imperfect people. We are imperfect people.
And I think that’s the thing that moved me most about this movie. Because it’s not just Mr. Banks that is saved. It’s me.
Coming to terms with our imperfections and sins, and those of the people who have had the most impact—positive and negative—on our lives is one of the challenges we must face if we are to have peace. I believe that challenge can only be fully met when we see it through the lens of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness and perspective and life only He can give. My New Year’s prayer is that we will all be able to do this in 2014.