45th Anniversary Edition
Review by Michael Jacobson
Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, Karen
Dotrice, Matthew Garber January 27, 2009
Director: Robert Stevenson
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby 2.0 Original Mix
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.66:1
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 139 Minutes
January 27, 2009
don't make films for children. I
make films children are not embarrassed to take their parents to." - Walt
magic for me truly reached its pinnacle 45 years ago when Walt Disney brought Mary
Poppins to life on the big screen. Here,
he was at his whimsical best, like a magician growing ever more delighted at the
smiles and gaping eyes of his audience, where he simply couldn't wait to
reveal the next big trick up his sleeve. This
is a film that delivers one stunning sequence only to top it with another...yet
every frame serves the greater overall story and the development of a multitude
of unforgettable characters.
among those, of course, is Mary herself. Julie
Andrews earned stage acclaim for her starring roles in the London and Broadway
productions of Camelot and My Fair Lady, and when Walt caught her
act on the Ed Sullivan Show, he knew no one else could fill the shoes of
P.L. Travers' beloved magical nanny. Ms.
Andrews was interested, but was hoping that she would be cast by Jack Warner to
reprise her role of Eliza Doolittle in the filmed version of My Fair Lady, as
her stage co-star Rex Harrison had been. But
that part went to Audrey Hepburn instead. In
an ironic twist of fate, Julie Andrews would go on to win the Best Actress Oscar
for Poppins, while Ms. Hepburn didn't even get a nomination!
was a well-deserved prize...in spite of the revolutionary spectacle and special
effects, it truly was Ms. Andrews' performance that brought Mary to life, and
ergo, the whole magical world around her. It
took a team of creative artists, a vibrant cast, and all the cleverness the Walt
Disney Studios could muster to make it all work, but Julie Andrews was the
thread that held it all together.
Poppins is a nanny who flies in with the wind wherever she is needed, and we
soon learn she's needed in the Banks' household. The children Jane (Dotrice) and Michael (Garber) are sweet
but have a propensity for getting into trouble.
Their parents have distractions: the
mother (Johns) is leading a charge for women's votes in the London of 1910,
and the father (Tomlinson) is a serious, stalwart man dedicated to his career at
pops in, and soon the children are learning new, wonderful, and frequently
musical lessons, such as "A Spoonful of Sugar" making the medicine go down,
or noticing a bird woman who calls "Feed the Birds" amongst the busy bustle
of the city. Her lessons are warm
and frequently accompanied by glorious escapades.
could forget the film's crowning moments, like the "Jolly Holiday" bit
where she, the children, and the affable jack-of-all-trades Bert (the winning
Van Dyke) pop into a sidewalk drawing in a stunning mix of live action and
animation? Or the show stopping "Step in Time" atop the roofs of the London?
Or the wonderful Ed Wynn as Uncle Albert proclaiming "I Love to
Laugh" while lighter than air? Or
learning the word that's right for all occasions:
You CAN say it backwards, but that's going a bit too far, don't you
it's not only the children who blossom under the tutelage of Mary
Poppins...even Mr. Banks comes to realize that the real treasures in life
aren't the stockpiles of money in his bank, but the laughter and delight of
his very own children. The
heartwarming finale "Let's Go Fly a Kite" shows that all is finally right
in the Banks' world...and Mary is once again free to seek out her next
children in need.
just not enough superlative adjectives in the book for such a magical movie
going experience. It took almost 20
years of dreaming on the part of Walt Disney to realize his vision.
It required sure-handed
direction from the venerable Robert Stevenson, a cascade of terrific songs from
Richard and Robert Sherman (who delivered an Oscar winning score and song with "Chim Chim Cheree"), a superb animation department headed by the legendary
Hamilton Luske, and of course, a wonderful cast of Britons and Americans alike.
of these elements combined for a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle of song, visual
wonder, and memorable characters that families have gone back to time and again
for 45 years now. I've no doubt
the next 40 years will be no different. Mary
Poppins remains Walt Disney's crowning achievement...in a career such as
his, that's really saying something.
look be-YOO-tee-ful!! Disney pulled out all the stops for this special edition
release with a restored anamorphic transfer that has Mary Poppins looking
as youthful as ever. The colors are
more vibrant and rich than I've ever remembered, with clean lines, good detail
(the Banks house is really alive with props and clever little touches), and
sharpness without undue grain. I
can't remember any noticeable print flaws along the way. You don't have to see past the end of your nose to realize
this presentation is one for the ages!
a jolly holiday with Mary, alright! Disney's
enhanced home theatre mixes continue to bring the best out of your sound system
set up, and you'll notice it right from the overture during the opening
credits. The orchestra sounds
vibrant, full, dynamic, and very live, like they were playing in your own living
room! Ambient effects are nicely
placed throughout to keep your back channels alive, and spoken (and sung) words
ring out with a lovely clarity.
What an incredible package Disney has assembled for the gala 45th
One has two main extras: a
commentary track featuring three sessions spliced together. One has the legendary Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, one
has composer Richard Sherman and co-star Karen Dotrice, and one has co-composer
Robert Sherman. As an extra treat,
along the way you'll hear vintage audio clips from the likes of director
Robert Stevenson and Walt Disney himself! It's
a joyous trip down memory lane filled with trivia, stories, thoughts and
more...what a treat.
you can access Poppins Pop Up Fun Facts, which utilizes the subtitle feature to
give you extra background information on the film. Learn who was originally considered for what part, how
certain tricks were done, the contributions with author P.L. Travers and much
addition, you can access your favorite songs directly from the menu, or take a
look at some Disney sneak peeks.
Two is a treasure trove that will keep you busy for a good while.
You should definitely start with the new 50 minute documentary "The
Making of Mary Poppins". It features plenty of new cast and crew interviews and rare
behind-the-scenes footage, as well as, of course, the story of how it all came
together. A musical reunion
features Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke reminiscing with Richard Sherman at the
piano. Richard Sherman is also
featured in his own "musical journey" segment.
go on to "Backstage Disney" for even more...you'll learn how certain
tricks were pulled off in the short bit "Movie Magic", or see the "Jolly
Holiday" and "Step in Time" scenes deconstructed (including before and
after animation sequences). You'll
also find a trio of trailers, still art galleries, footage from the original
premiere and party, and Dick Van Dyke's make-up test!
Now that Mary Poppins has found her way to the stage, there are new extras under "Disney on Broadway". You can see how the story progressed from stage to page in a featurette, or see the cast performing "Step in Time", and even download the tune to your MP3 player. There is even a gallery of designer Bob Crowley's visions for the theatrical production.
delightful bonus is the new short film "The Cat That Looked a King" from the
original Mary Poppins stories. In
it, Julie Andrews herself takes two children through a pavement painting and
into a new animated world. Listen
for the voices of Tracy Ullman, David Ogden Steirs and Sarah Ferguson!
you get a look at a deleted song "Chimpanzoo" sung by Richard Sherman and
featuring original concept art, and a set top game where you have to help the
laughing Uncle Albert find his way down!
menus with music round out the disc's extras, making for one of the most fun
filled and informative packages your family will ever enjoy!