I still can’t believe that this film is only around 20 years older than me. It seems so much older, but primarily because it’s set in 1910. For those of you that don’t know the story of Mary Poppins, I shall give a brief summary.
The story is centred around the Banks family, headed by the cold and aloof Mr. Banks. He is married and has two young children, who are causing all kinds of trouble. The action begins when the children’s nanny resigns, claiming to have had enough of the children, who keep running away from her. As she leaves, Mr. Banks comes home to discover the children have gone missing. They eventually turn up safe and sound, but Mr. Banks now decides it should be he, and his not his wife, who appoints the new nanny. He dictates a list of requirements for the post. Meanwhile, Jane and Michael have made a list of their own.
As you’d expect, the two lists are very different and the children’s father dismisses them and rips up their advertisements and throws it into the unlit fireplace. The pieces float unnoticed up the chimney as the official advertisement is put into The Times, and that’s where the trouble begins.
Mary Poppins is far from the average woman. It’s implied, though never confirmed, that she had a hand in the literal ‘blowing away’ of the queue of po-faced nanny candidates standing at the Banks’ door the following morning. After their disappearance she appears serenely floating down from the sky, clasping an umbrella. She marches in for her interview, takes no notice and much to Mr. Banks despair and confusion, hires herself and heads for the nursery.
Jane and Michael soon find out that Mary is a far cry from the typical strait-laced and strict nannies they’ve had in the past. They like her almost immediately and their madcap adventures begin, changing the lives of the Banks’ forever.
I always loved this film when I was younger, but I hadn’t watched it all the way through for years. I’m therefore glad I got the chance to do this review. Mary Poppins really is the ultimate feel-good film. It tells a story of a time of total innocence and has a poignant moral. It’s Disney at its best, in my opinion. Of course, the special effects aren’t a patch on today’s, but for the time, they were something special. There’s a pretty much seamless integration of human and cartoon and the songs are some of the most catchy in Disney’s history.
If you’re a fan of the film, you’ll enjoy the bonus features, too. You have the choice to play the film with the song lyrics on the screen, though this could have benefited from being more obvious in the menu – I tend to watch a film, then look at the bonus features which is what I did in this case. By which point it was too late and I’d already watched the film. Otherwise, I’m ashamed to admit, I’d certainly have watched it with the lyrics on screen so I could wail along to the right words as opposed to the ones I vaguely remembered. You can also play the parts of the movie which have the songs in, either all together or one by one.
Finally, you have the usual audio commentaries (in this case Julie Andrews, Karen Dotrice, Richard Sherman, Robert Sherman and Dick Van Dyke) and Poppins Pop-Up Fun Facts, which are just as they say – you watch the films and various facts pop up. However, I found this a huge distraction from the film, particularly as they weren’t on the screen for very long and by the time you’ve read them (particularly if you’re a slow reader, which I’m not) you’ve missed half of the scene you’re supposed to be watching.
Overall, Disney lovers, particularly of the old-school variety – get this if you haven’t already got it on DVD. If you have, I wouldn’t rush out to buy this edition as the extras are pretty mediocre. But on the whole, a great DVD to add to your collection.