Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jane says to Michael, "I know of a man with a wooden leg named Smith." And Michael says, "Really? What's the name of his other leg?"

On Easter Sunday, I woke up to two things: A chocolate bunny, and Mary Poppins. The latter I watched twice over the course of the day, so I feel extra prepared for this post.

Of course, watching Disney movies as one of the grown-ups is an entirely different experience. When I was little, I had no idea what the woman's suffrage movement was, and I had never seen someone trying to make a living by performing on the street. I accepted these, and the myriad other aspects of the film that didn't match up with my middle-class American upbringing, without much thought. Odd how its those same details, the ones I'd always just skipped over as a child, that most hold my interest now.

The most poignant scene in the film by far is Mr. Banks' late walk through the deserted London streets on his way to being fired. It was never something I paid attention to as a kid -- after all, where was the Mary Poppins magic or animation? -- but I now find it riveting. Here's a man who is just starting, with the help of Bert, to realize how screwed up his priorities are. His entire worldview is in the process of being shaken, and before he has the chance to get his bearings, the one thing he's valued most is about to be pulled out from under him. To the credit of David Tomlinson, the audience can see the confusion in Banks' face when he pauses at the place where Michael had wanted to feed the birds. It's clear that he's still not quite sure what it all means.

I really liked that the parents -- particularly Mr. Banks -- were such an integral part of the story, to the point of having side plots of their own. It's a more interesting alternative to the static or absent parents in many Disney films.

One thing that hasn't changed about my perception of this movie is the "Step In Time" number. It's always been one of my favorite choreographed sequences in film. As I was watching on Sunday morning, I started reading some of the trivia on IMDB, and I saw that they had to film this scene twice because of a scratch on the original film. I tried to find more information on this number, but my Google-fu is failing me today. I did find a clip, at least.

Can you imagine having to nail this twice?


  1. I adore Mary Poppins! I'm so excited that it's on DVD now (I really don't like the way Disney releases their DVDs.. I want them all available if I have the whim to watch one!) My favorite part when I was little (and still is now) is when they jump into the sidewalk drawings and end up in another universe. I was a big sidewalk chalker as a kid, and I spent hours drawing little scenes that I tried jumping into :)

  2. I used to watch this movie so many times, that I couldn't watch it anymore after that. Now I'm so excited to watch it again, I really love this movie. I love Dick Van Dyke's fake cockney accent. haha

  3. I only saw this movie a couple times when I was young (but one of those was on the big screen!), and I've just been re-discovering it recently. My little nephew loves this movie, so we're watching it all the time. My sister and I have been having long conversations about how much stuff there is for adults in this film, and all the stuff we didn't understand as a kid. It is a great film!