This week I watched Saving Mr Banks, a film based on the interactions between Walt Disney and the author of Mary Poppins P.L Travers as the movie adaptation was being developed. Mrs Travers was reticent about the film as the characters were like family to her and handing them over to someone else was a difficult ask.
Books and films are such different mediums and yet so many books have been turned into movies. Because both mediums tell a story and a good story in theory should shine through no matter how you present that story to an audience. Of course, some adaptations work better than others. Readers who have loved a book want to see it replicated as closely as possible but a viewer of the film who hasn’t read the book wants to experience a good film and not sit through six hours of backstory or scene setting.
Watching the film I sympathised with Mrs Travers but also with Mr Disney (or Walt as he liked to be called!) they both agreed Mary Poppins was a brilliant story with great characters but clashed on how to use these things in a film. As a writer I can’t imagine the fear that must come when you sign over film rights to someone not knowing how they will treat your baby. Obviously though I’d cry with joy someone wanted to turn one of my books into a film in the first place 🙂
I found the movie actually really moving. For me, the moment when she actually enjoys one of the songs they play her and ends up dancing is such a lovely moment because she was transported into the film story, still her story but with a new vision. Even though she knew Mary Poppins backwards, she still felt something.
That has to be what any author and film maker want. To make the audience or reader feel the story no matter the medium it’s being told in. I’ve watched Mary Poppins A LOT during my lifetime yet I wiped away a tear during Saving Mr Banks as I saw the story from a new point of view. And in a way whenever you re-read or re-watch something you see it from a new point of view. That’s why some stories have stood the test of time no matter what medium they were told in.
And if Disney ever call me for my film rights, I’ll shall definitely say yes with the proviso I get to go to the premiere with Mickey Mouse as Mrs Travers does 🙂
How would you feel if your book was going to be adapted into a film?