The movie Saving Mr Banks starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson is a co-production of Australia, Britain and USA that combines comedy and drama genres. This movie tells the story of Walter Disney persuading the writer of Merry Poppins to sell the rights for production of the movie. There are two storylines within this movie: the autobiographical memories of Pamela Travers in Australia and the persuasion that takes place in LA and London. Within the story it is explained why it took 20 years for Disney to buy the rights for production.
The scene where Pamela Travers comes to America and meets her driver and Walter Disney demonstrates various aspects of intercultural communications. In this paper I will argue that cross-cultural differences between Americans and British in the movie Saving Mr Banks are shaping the relationships between main characters. It happens through different use of language and differences in cultural background.
Americans and British both speak English language, however the characters are faced with some challenges in verbal communication. So American English and British English shape the identity of the speaker. The writer who comes from Britain emphasises the importance of her title. She is also very cautious with use of names. She believes that strangers, acquaintances and friends have to address each other differently. This shows that English is a verbal culture.
The formal addressing is important because it reveals the intricate system of class in English society. When the driver meets the writer, he greets her using her initials and her family name. She thinks that it is inappropriate, and corrects him: “-It’s not Mrs P.L., it is Mrs.” It seems that, taking into consideration the language that Pamela Travers uses, according to Kate Fox’s division of classes she is a middle class who “perceives many layers and delicate distinctions” of social classes.
This interaction continues when she meets the driver the following day. He greets her: “Good morning, Mrs.” At first, she is angry because he cannot remember the right way for greeting. “It s not Mrs, it is…” Then she realises that changing the customs is hard and capitulates: “Never mind. We are just not going to get it right, are we?” This creates a barrier in their relationship. This moment represents the theory about how language affects thinking process. In that example, the use of titles by English is confronted with social simplicity and absence of obsession with class in America. Americans simply do not put people into categories using titles like Mrs, Miss, Princess, Duke, Count, and Earl. However, they still understand the meanings of these ideas. Later on Travers expounds on it: “It’s so discomforting to hear the complete stranger use my first name” United Kingdom is the only country in which people understand what class the person belongs to when they hear them speak. And Britain is the only country where class is so important.