February 4, 2009

Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition

If not for anything else—because this film is one of those things to love or hate, like city life, depending on one’s impression, or like “rare” or “well-done”, with the latter being synonymous to being “overcooked” for the ones who prefer the former, or like pop or rock in music - there’s no middle ground for this one for an ambivalent audience, because again, you’d either watch this or you won’t, or you’ve seen it before, enjoyed it, and would gladly see it again, or would rather learn how to knit, you get the point—you’d watch this purely for entertainment. Why? Well, because it’s simply great entertainment. And Walt Disney and great entertainment are synonymous; when you talk of one, you’re talking of the other. This 45th Anniversary Special Edition of Disney's Mary Poppins is an absolute, all-time family amusement. One can hardly scoff at this rather sappy musical. It is farfetched, which makes for a fantastic show. And yet, even in all its whimsy, lending an escape from reality—and it was so for the writer of Mary Poppins, Pamela Traverse, whose childhood and adult tapestry she had knitted and romanticized for a children's book (though the Mary Poppins in the book could hardly be considered as charming as she was, though enigmatic, and certainly not a romantic).  She consistently disapproved of Disney’s updated version of her nanny, according to Valerie Lawson’s account of the embittered and intriquing author in Lawson’s book, Mary Poppins, She Wrote, which I’ll cover next time—the movie shows the bleak reality of life, such as that of a misguided father, Mr. George Banks (David Tomlinson), who is consumed by his rigid philosophy and career for his family’s sustenance, neglecting his family - his subversive wife, Winifred (Glynis Johns), and children, Michael and Jane (Matthew Garber and Karen Dotrice). In flies the “practically perfect” nanny, Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews), to the rescue, with her magical umbrella and carpet bag, armed with wit, tenacity, and charm, and the help of a good-old friend Bert (Dick Van Dyke), a quirky and cheerful chimney-sweep.  The Banks' children learn some valuable lessons as fly with their Mary and Bert to awesome adventures, where they meet buoyant Uncle Albert (Ed Winn) and a lowly bird lady (Jane Darwell).

Disney’s brings you this remastered fanfare which boasts brilliant animation, magical story seasoned, distinctive characters, fantastic scenes, and excellent choreography, especially in the “Step-in-Time” sequence with the chimney sweeps.  Exceptional design by Bob Crowley’s  and outstanding musical scores by the Sherman Brothers.

This special 2-Disc set features Backstage Disney, which includes a peek at Disney on Broadway, Music sets with a downloadable MP3 for “Step In Time”, Rare Behind-The-Scenes Footage, and Fun Facts; an Animated Short hosted by Julie Andrews; a Reunion with Andrews, Van Dyke, and Sherman; and the 1964 Premier of Mary Poppins, along with a few extra treats, including an interview with the author, Valerie Lawson. This dynamic animated edition is surely much more than just a dose or a “spoonful of sugar”. It’s “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” with quite a lot of sugar. But it’s still good.

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