A film that has stayed the course, despite the wind changing…
Written By: Michaela Clement-Hayes
Date: 15th March, 2015
The film that children will always remember Julie Andrews for, and everyone will snigger at Dick Van Dyke's terrible cockney accent (especially the British!).
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, aaaand snap. The job’s a game!”
How many children tried to tidy up their bedroom by snapping their fingers after seeing this iconic film? Surely hundreds, I know I did. Still more sat on the carousel hoping their horse would jump off and transport them off on a magical journey.
Someone asked me earlier what my favourite scene is from Mary Poppins and I just couldn’t decide – the whole film is brilliant. As I’ve grown up the film’s message has become clearer and Mr Banks (David Tomlinson) seems less of a villain, although far from its hero. Despite its age, this film is on every Christmas and is beloved by children and adults across the world.
So what makes this film so timeless?
Mary Poppins has always been a classic and Saving Mr Banks the recent film about author PL Travers life has only served to increase its popularity. Although the film differs somewhat from the original story (in the books the Banks family has four children and Mary Poppins is plain and stern).
The effects are still good, the jokes still funny and the story still moving. The acting is exceptional, even from the children (Karin Dotrice and Matthew Garber), especially when they sing The Perfect Nanny.
Julie Andrews shines as magical nanny Mary Poppins, who arrives to look after the Banks’ children Jane and Michael. There’s humour in everything she does, with her mysterious smile and parrot umbrella and the chemistry between Mary and Bert – Dick van Dyke, dodgy cockney accent in tow – is delightful. If anything, van Dyke’s accent adds to the humour of the film and his facial expressions never fail to amaze and amuse.
Sixty year on, the Sherman Brothers’ songs remain classic to this day, particularly the finale song Let’s Go Fly A Kite, Chim Chim Cheree and the haunting lullaby Feed The Birds. The popularity of this film is perhaps down to the fact that the songs are all so different, moving from jolly and fun to poignant and meaningful from scene to scene.
Cartoons take over when Mary, Bert and the two children jump through the chalk picture and despite Travers initial scepticism this works surprisingly well as it bridges the gap between reality and magic. Poor Uncle Albert stuck on the ceiling still looks as sharp to my adult mind as it did to my younger self all those years ago and when Mary Poppins flies off on the wind, I still get the same lump in my throat. Not many films have endings that make you want to cry tears of both happiness and sadness at the same time.
Even the credits of this film are playful, at the beginning stopping for a few seconds to show Mary Poppins sitting on a cloud powdering her nose and at the end, only revealing Dick van Dyke as Mr Dawes Senior after some animated rearranging of Navckid Keyd.
This film is sad, funny, happy and at times even frightening, with fantastic music and cinematography that have managed to amaze and delight generations for over six decades.