Here comes Mary Poppins, and none too soon, in an era where people are, as Bert said in the original, “hemmed in by mounds of cold, heartless money. I don’t like to see any living thing caged up…They makes cages in all sizes and shapes, you know. Bank-shaped some of ’em, carpets and all.”
I enjoyed the new movie, and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. Please don’t read this if you intend to see the movie.
There is a point of contention I have with the new movie, however glad I am to bring Mary Poppins back into our popular culture. My contention is only important if you are a terribly impractical person, like myself. To me, Mary Poppins is perfectly impractical in every way.
Near the end of the movie, when Dick van Dyke’s character comes out to save the day, he says that Michael Banks’ original tuppence did actually get invested, and that worked out well for him to purchase back his house that he grew up in. I’m not terribly interested in the verity of the math on this, (although here it is, if you are), it’s more that the solution for this movie is the prison of the previous.
That, to me, is a terribly practical turn, and works against the magic of the film. The wonderful, fateful, Supercalifragilistic- expialidocious tuppence, were better spent, (or thought to be spent) on feeding the birds,- when the saints and apostles smile on someone each time that they show that they care. My kid-self, and my current self have not drifted apart in opinion on this; that it was a far better thing to have spent the money on the fleeting things of the bird woman and her birds; to get the nod of the statuary in St. Paul’s was a far higher honor than “that sense of stature as your influence expands to the high financial strata that established credit now commands”.
As Mr. Banks concludes in the original, “it turns out, with due respect, when all is said and done, that there’s no such thing as you,” or me, of course. The loss of humans is inevitable, but loss of humanity is oblivion. Because if the birds matter, and the lady, and all of it matters, and if we care, then maybe we can matter, too. The old movie remains more impressive to me still. It was a better truth that Mary Poppins once sang to me, that I’ll leave you with now:
Though her words are simple and few
Listen, listen she’s calling to you
Feed the birds tuppence a bag
Tuppence, tuppence tuppence a bag