Saving Mr. Banks

Inciting Event:

Ginty’s POV: Ginty (Mrs. Travers as a child) leaves her upscale home with her family, as the result of her charming alcoholic father’s having lost his job at the bank.

Mrs. Travers’s POV: Mrs. Travers arrives in California to meet with Walt Disney about selling the movie rights to her novel Mary Poppins. She’s already in combat mode from the very first scene, but now she’s in the direct vicinity of her opponent, ready to engage in the actual conflict over her story.

First Plot Point:

Ginty’s POV: Ginty arrives in end-of-the-line Allora, Australia. Her father makes their rundown house in the middle of nowhere seem like an adventure, even though it is clearly a step down in the world for the family. This is the “adventure world” of Ginty’s Second Act, where she will come of age by watching her father fall apart.

Mrs. Travers’s POV: Mrs. Travers starts work on the Mary Poppins script. Although this is clearly the beginning of the story’s main conflict, this isn’t a particularly dramatic First Plot Point. The story just kind of segues from Mrs. Travers being a pain in the neck in general to being a pain in the neck to the Disney workers specifically.

First Pinch Point:

Ginty’s POV: Ginty arrives at the bank where her father works and sees him behaving erratically. He is nearly fired. Only her presence saves his job. This is the first major emphasis of what’s at stake in this part of the story: her father’s ability to hold himself and his family together.

Mrs. Travers’s POV: When Disney comes to oversee yet another of her tantrums, Mrs. Travers insists the script has no weight and throws the loose pages out the window to prove it. She reveals the crucial new clue that Mary Poppins did not, in fact, come to save the children.


Ginty’s POV: Ginty’s father gets drunk at the fair, where he is supposed to present medals. He falls apart before literally falling off the stage. This is the turning point. This is the moment where young Ginty finally recognizes that her lionized father is undergoing terrific personal problems as he makes a fool of himself and her in front of the entire town.

Mrs. Travers’s POV: During an audition of the song “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank,” Mrs. Travers bursts into tears, insists the father character should not be cruel, and says she feels she let “him” down again. Via the interweaving of the two timelines in this scene, this is where the stories finally intersects and it becomes blatantly clear that Mr. Banks in the Mary Poppins book is in fact Mrs. Travers’s father.

Second Pinch Point: Ginty chases after her suicidal mother and pulls her from the lake. There really isn’t a corresponding pinch point for the Mrs. Travers’s timeline, which is problematic, since hers is the “main” story. Nevertheless, this scene is suitably dramatic to carry the tonal weight of the structure.

Third Plot Point:

Mrs. Travers’s POV: Although she was finally won over (in the “false victory”) by the idea to have the father “go fly a kite” in the movie’s final scene, Mrs. Travers blows a gasket when she discovers Walt is planning to use animated penguins in the “Jolly Holiday” sequence. She feels this is a direct violation of their agreement. She calls off the whole movie and storms back home to London. This is a nice example of a Third Plot Point that creates a massive plot-appropriate low moment without resorting to the extremes of a character’s death. In one fell blow, it completely destroys everything Mrs. Travers and Walt have been building toward throughout the story.

Ginty’s POV: We do, however, still get the emotional and symbolic weight of a death in Ginty’s Third Plot Point, when her consumptive father finally dies.

Climax: Walt arrives on Mrs. Travers’s doorstep in London for the final confrontation between them (protagonist and antagonist, such as they are). He tells her the story if his own conflicted relationship with his father.

Climactic Moment: After Walt leaves, Mrs. Travers finally signs the contract.

Resolution: Mrs. Travers attends the Hollywood premiere and experiences personal catharsis through the movie.

Notes: Structurally, this movie is a bit wobbly. Most of the plot points are actually carried by the flashback storyline of Mrs. Travers’s youth in Australia. This is problematic, since the main conflict takes place in the “present-day” storyline of her battle royale with Walt Disney. The problem might have been somewhat mitigated had the backstory’s plot points consistently carried the weight of the plot, but there are a few instances where the main story carries more of the weight. Also, there’s the problematic Second Pinch Point, which has no corresponding presence in the main story.

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