Thursday, January 16, 2014

Truth in Advertising...I mean Movies

I didn't get around to seeing  Disney's SAVING MR. BANKS right away, but I did read all about the "real" story of Disney's wrangling the rights for the book from P.L. Travers and her real hatred for words like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and the way the American Disney Studio made everything sugar sweet in their version.
Just Google P.L. Travers  and there are plenty of articles... 

BIO.COM article.....HERE
Definitely the other side of the story....HERE
And an interesting documentary on the British take of the Disney-story of their beloved Children's Books,  THE SECRET LIFE OF MARY POPPINS....HERE

The discrepancies have been greatly covered in the media and so I won't dive into them. What I'm pondering is why there had to be discrepancies, so great as to leave the opposite impression from the truth. P.L. Travers never came around to Disney's point of view in real life. Why make a movie that greatly implies otherwise. when a movie, keeping keeping more to the truth could still make a good if not totally resolved ending?
SAVING MR. BANKS is not the first movie I have pondered such things about, here is another one...

Early in THE BUTLER, the story of America through the eyes of the White House's first African American butler, as a small boy...

 Cecil Gaines witnesses his mother being raped by the plantation owner and then when his father protested, the plantation owner brutally kills him.
Problem is the first African American  to have a prominate role in serving the Presidents was not named Gaines...

 He was Eugene Allen , bio here on Wikipedia,  and while  he did grow up Virginia in the first part of the twentieth century and most certainly witnessed such atrocities, why was it necessary to make those atrocities happen to his parents? Artistic licences? Was it greatly needed for the story, no. 
Daniels did change the name of his butler, but used both real events from Allen's life, like being invited by the Reagan's to a state dinner for all his years of service. But then he entirely changed things like splitting Allen's one son, into two characters, one serving in Vietnam like the younger Allen, but being killed in the line of duty and the other son, well the other fabrication of a son.....

he was an early protester in the Civil Right's Movement, a Black Panther and well eventually a senator. But again, that really didn't happen.

My concern is that film is powerful and it is too easy for the scenes we see, bigger than life in front of us, to imprint upon our brains and we can forget that what we saw in full color might not be the accurate truth. The real Allens meld to easily with the made up Gaines, the Disney version of P.L Travers to easily trumps the real Travers who never stopped hating the Andrews version of her beloved character, Mary Poppins. 
In the past, I have wondered how entire civilizations can be lost, how did the dark ages happen, how did a collective amnesia occur, weren't  people paying attention, but now in my old age, I am beginning to realize how easy it is to change the public perception of something, just make a movie about it, based only slightly on the truth and in no time people will swear the Hollywood version is what really happened. 

No comments:

Post a Comment