The Endurance of ‘Mary Poppins’

By Mila Whiteley,

The film Mary Poppins was first released on August 27, 1964, making this year the beloved musical’s 50th anniversary. Based on P.L. Travers’ beloved children’s stories, the production of the film is said to have been a battle of wills between the author and Walt Disney, as they fought over how to tell the story of the magical nanny and the children she tends correctly as reported by Bio.com. However, despite the fights involved in the making of the film, there can be no argument that the film has stood the test of time. SPOILERS AHEAD

Indeed, there are numerous reasons why Mary Poppins has endured so well. The acting of Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke as well as the amazing music written by brothers Richard & Robert Sherman are all clearly a part of the magic the movie creates. However, for me, the lasting value of Mary Poppins has always come from the ideals the underline the film and the lessons that still resonate today.

When I was younger, the majority of the movies my family had were Disney movies. We had a trunk in the middle of the living room filled with them, with copies of Sleeping Beauty ,The Little Mermaid and Aladdin all shoved together. I loved all these movies, and the tales they spun, but Mary Poppins always had a certain something extra that I related to. Though movies like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast contained family dynamics, they mostly focused on the love story, with love conquering all and the Beast becoming a man again in the face of Belle’s devotion. I loved that romance, but as a six-year-old, I could hardly relate.

Mary Poppins, on the other hand, spoke my language. I understood the frustration of someone not having enough time to pay attention to me (even if my case was a little less dire than that of Jane and Michael) and the fun that could come from creating your own world. I definitely understood why a “Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” And at the end of the film, I understood why Jane and Michael forgave their father for his earlier absence. Family is important, a lesson that was reinforced with every skip of the Banks family during “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” and a value that Mary Poppins seemed to understand.

As I have gotten older, other themes from Mary Poppins have become more relevant such as the ability to let things go. At the end of the movie, Mary Poppins leaves the Banks family, because despite her fondness for them, she knows that it is the right thing to do. Her work is done, and there are other children and families for her to help. It can be hard to acknowledge that one stage of life is over, especially when it has been a good one. Whether it be a relationship or your life at college, it can be hard to move on. Julie Andrew’s bittersweet expression as Mary Poppins watches the Banks family walk away expresses that difficulty perfectly. However, her ability to move on when the wind tells her it is time is just one of the skills she (and the movie) can teach us. Along with how to use an umbrella to fly.

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