Let’s go fly a kite!

The other day I watched Saving Mr. Banks, a fictionalized account of banksthe filming of Mary Poppins, which I have to admit was not my favorite Disney film.  Apparently, PL Travers, the author of the book, had an even stronger reaction.  She gave ole Uncle Waltie such gas that at first she wasn’t even invited to the premiere.  The reasons she gave for her disapproval were: the nanny wasn’t strict enough and Disney insisted on adding animation.  After her experience, she refused to allow him to film any of her other books. (Watch the trailer from Saving Mr. Banks.)

The movie Saving Mr. Banks implies that Travers’ hatred of the movie went far deeper than a dislike of dancing penguins.  Apparently the filming brought back memories of her delightfully fanciful


The “loathsome” penguins.

but totally irresponsible father and the stern aunt who arrived after his premature death to pull the grieving family together.  In the Mary Poppins’ books, the nanny is able to save the whole family whereas in real life, help arrived too late. So you could say PL Travers used fiction to save a father she’d tragically lost and for that reason, seeing him and her beloved aunt portrayed as Disney caricatures must have mortified her. I can understand this feeling well. The other day someone commented that the Captain Wug character in FLIPKA was a “crazed geezer.” 

From Bing images

From Bing images

Since that character was based on a decorated war hero, I freaked.  What have I done, I thought.  Turning the beloved people in my life into caricatures? The person who made the comment was surprised by my reaction.  Many memorable characters in fiction began their lives in the impressions of children, he pointed out, and thus are often capable of the improbable, the fanciful, and the heroic. They are also subject to caricature.  Every book we publish is like a kite we launch into the sky.  Everyone who sees the kite will see it differently and about this fact we can do nothing except be happy the kite is flying. 

By the way, PK Travers was not the first nor will she probably be the last author to hate the film version of their baby:


I don’t know about Papa, but this book cover implies a little hanky-panky might be going on.

About the movie adaptation of The Shining, Stephen King complained the hotel was not sufficiently “evil” and Jack Nicholson acted “too psychotic.” Having read the book and seen the movie,  King’s comments made me think he doesn’t know what he wrote!  I could say the same thing about Ernest Hemingway’s response to the first adaptation of A Farewell to Arms.  He felt it was “too romantic.”  Okay.  Here’s what I think. The heroine was based on his first wife and by the time the movie came out he was probably on his third.  Sounds like the rascal was just trying to save a marriage!

The list goes on to include so many authors that I decided if anything I write is ever made into a movie or play, I’ll try to keep this in mind – it’s only a kite I launched which once airborne belongs to the world.

Let’s go fly a kite (click for video)
Up to the highest height!
Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Let’s go fly a kite! – Robert B. Sherman

Click here to read about other authors who hated the movie adaptations of their books.

12 thoughts on “Let’s go fly a kite!

  1. I wouldn’t call him “crazed,” but I was surprised to learn that comment offended you. I thought of him as somewhere between “crazed” and someone to be respected–one of those older people whose eccentricities you’re willing to tolerate because you like him or her. You’re right, though–you can’t predict the way readers will read what you write. Or screen writers will adapt your story (fingers crossed!).

    1. I was surprised to have that reaction too! Then, when I saw the movie it clicked. The fictional characters we create have a life of their own. They might have been inspired by someone we knew but once they’ve been processed by our often flawed perception they become a character. And then we have to let them go. Thus saying – no skinny blond bubblehead will ever play Fi Butters!

  2. I guess if our words ever get onto a screen, we will never control what they say. do they make films of poetry? hahahaha

  3. I think it would be really hard for most writers to love a movie version of their books. I think Jack Nicholson fit the fill for being sufficiently psychotic as Jack Torrance, but how the interior of the hotel was modeled after the inside of the Ahwahnee in Yosemite struck me as a bit ill-fitting, but the exterior of the lodge on Mt. Hood had the right level of creepiness.

  4. Interesting – I didn’t know the interior was fashioned on the Ahwahnee – I would have chosen the Wawona as I believe it is haunted (but of course it isn’t as grand!) Thx for stopping by and commenting!

  5. I love the analogy you end with ” a kite launched which once airborne belongs to the world.” I don’t think I’ll be picky if someone wants to make a movie out of my novel ( is anyone listening?) – I’d LOVE it!

    1. I probably would be disappointed or unhappy if they picked an inappropriate person to play one of my characters but after seeing that movie, I probably wouldn’t say anything! Thanks for stopping!

      1. Well, you and Joni Mitchell are of the same mind. She “apparently” nixed a film of her life over the chosen actress, name unmentioned!! You can Google it! But I agree with the airborne analogy. I had to learn that about gifts to people. Once I’d given it, how, or if they chose to use it was none of my business. Like what my mother did with some jewelry I gave her, or the beautiful orchid plant someone let die! It’s basically just blessing gone out that resonates in some way we’ll never understand, or need to I suppose.

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