Mary Poppins

Director: Robert Stevenson

1964

Much like with The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Mary Poppins is a film that I really have to be in the mood for in order to appreciate it. And after having watched Saving Mr Banks (John Lee Hancock, 2013) which covers the culmination of Disney’s long courtship with P.L. Travers, I was definitely in the mood to watch the finished article. “As far back as 1938, Walt Disney had been trying to but the rights to the Mary Poppins books.” (428, Edward Lawrenson, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

Mary Poppins and Bert singingMary Poppins is magical and like most Disney films was a staple of my childhood. I loved Dick Van Dyke’s Bert, dodgy cockney accent and all. He is the everyman and very much facilitates the telling of this story. I think there’s a small part in every child watching Mary Poppins that wishes they had a nanny like her, someone they could go on magical adventures with.  Jane and Michael Banks sometimes grate on me but then you know me – I have something of an issue with child actors for the most part. Mrs Banks is wonderfully scatty and far more focused on her campaign for equal rights then her children, at least in the beginning anyway. Despite this you can’t help but feel affection for her.

“Set in a stylized version of Edwardian England – and including some groundbreaking sequences combining live action and cell animation – the film features Julie Andrews as the eponymous nanny employed by the affluent Banks family.” (428) As a child I loved the animated elements of the film for the fun they portrayed. Now as an adult I still love the animated elements of the film and marvel at the technical genius of the technique used, especially considering when the film was produced. These elements still fit fairly seamlessly into the film, even in a time when computer graphics and special effects are advancing incredibly fast, which is a testament to the skill of the artists. I particularly enjoy the penguin waiters who even now produce multiple belly laughs whenever I watch them. 

“With the action interspersed with the Sherman Brothers’ infectiously catchy songs, it ultimately sees Mary Poppins bring the Banks children closer to their well-meaning but negligent parents, with the help of friends that include the happy-go-lucky chimney sweep Bert (the much maligned, cockney-accented Dick Van Dyke)” (428) The songs are indeed insanely catchy and stick with you for days afterwards. They do always bring a smile to my face when I hear them.