Mary Poppins

If I may wax nostalgic without ripping off some popular you-tubers, I’d like to look back on this classic.

I just watched it today, and it seems, like all classics, to have more in it than I realized as a child.

Since I grew up right as Disney was transitioning more and more to 3D and coming to the end of it’s Renaissance phase (that’s all the 2D princesses and princes after Sleeping Beauty,) I never found the really old films quite as interesting to re-watch, but I felt their charm and I think it’s shame a lot of kids now haven’t even watched these classics.

Mary Poppins is at least a perennial favorite movie of mine. I always wanted to ride those merry-go-round horses (it used to really frustrate me that I knew they weren’t real) hop into pictures, laugh on the ceiling and dance on rooftops.

I also have seen Saving Mr. Banks, so that lent the movie even more meaning. I remember asking my mom once during Mary Poppins, while Bert was talking/singing to Mr. Banks, why he was doing so. She told me he was trying to help him learn the lesson Mary Poppins was trying to teach him. I wasn’t entirely clear on what that lesson was. I’d often ask my mom questions about stuff I had already figured out just to hear what she would say, and often she’d say something I hadn’t thought of though basically agreeing with me.

So, that said. What do I think about the movie now that I’m older?

I think that in the end there are two basic messages of the film, and they are expressed in different ways through the whimsical things that happen.

The secondary message is that life needs a little wonder in it and a little fun in everything, or it isn’t worthwhile. I know that this movie influenced my attitude about chores and other tasks. I play music and sing when I clean just because it’s more fun  hat way and I’m more likely to finish the task. Oh the tedious hours of cleaning before I clued in to this trick. Ugh.

Now my mom might just listen to a radio talk show, or nothing at all, not everyone needs to use this method; but the point is, especially if you’re young, you don’t like grueling work.

And who doesn’t want a merry-go-round horse that can go off the carousal? I wish.

The funny thing is, though I didn’t like Mr. Banks, I knew he was right that those things weren’t real. Even Mary Poppins never admits that they were and seems affronted at even doing them half the time. I was that kid who grows up knowing Santa Claus isn’t real, and frankly the Easter Bunny was never appealing to me. And fairies aren’t real, and so on.

Yet I never ceased to enjoy stories aobut those things, or to wish in a way that they were real. And now I believe in them in a different sort of way.

I don’t believe that Santa Claus is real, but I believe in the possibility of things like Santa Claus. I don’t believe Mary Poppins is real, but I do believe that there are people just as wondrous as her who don’ get have the recognition. Remember that real life is stranger than fiction and their are weirder things than tea parties on the ceiling.

Heck, in the very same movie Mr. Banks references the Boston Tea Party, and that story is almost as odd as an actual tea part defying gravity.  I mean, colonists dressed as Native Americans? Seriously? Why would the Natives have thrown tea overboard? It was almost comical…funny. Like the tea party on the ceiling…hmm.

Anyway, the Primary message of Mary Poppins hits even closer to home. It’s about how adults can get to where they miss the little things that are so important.

You see, fixing the children’s kite, the tuppence, the feeding the birds, they are all of a piece. They are all little things. Things that seem to a busy man like a waste of time. He is focused on railroads, bridges, tea plantation, etc. All noble things perhaps (it’s debatable) but are they necessarily more important?

It’s an age old dilemma that adults have been trying to answer forever. Is it more important to be contributing the world in general and helping humanity or is it more important to be at home with your family making real memories. And people have answered it different ways. There’s a big movement now, especially among feminists and Hollywood, that we can have both.

But the fact is, that is almost impossible. Some few people can make it work, but most can’t prioritize family and work equally.

Which is more important? Mr. Banks comes to think that it is his family. Time goes by so fast, and kids will grow up, perhaps not hating their parents who neglected them, but never having that kind of bond with them that kids who felt valued did.

I can personally attestify to this. Once childhood is gone, it’s gone. Adult children can become close to their parents even after years of estrangement, but it’s a different kind o close. It can be just as good but never just as innocent as the first.

That’s why we need to treasure childhood instead of trying to rid ourselves of it, as Mr. Banks does at first.

The spoon full of sugar metaphor is pretty clear, a little sweetness is not hard to give, and it pays dividends in relationships.

The fixing of the kite ties all three metaphors together. The tuppence for paper and string, the kite, and the sweetness even after the medicine of being fired and disgraced.

Little things are important.

As an author and a reader I notice how often in stories little events end up being what the whole ending is hinged on. Often our Salvation turns on the smallest thing.

Big things are important of course, but the secret may actually be that big things are composed of many small things suddenly coming together. That’s my experience.

Those are my thoughts, until next time–Natasha.

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