Sunday, 14 July 2013

Mary Poppins (4 Stars)

This was the seventh film shown at the 2013 Outdoor Film Festival at Brindley Place in Birmingham. Today two films were shown back to back, "Shrek" and "Mary Poppins", but I arrived too late to see "Shrek". It was the smallest turnout so far. I estimate that no more than 50 people were present. The problem was the direct heat. It was almost 30C, and there was no shade for people watching the film. Many parents who came with their children left before the film was over. Of the film club, only Shirley and I attended. In the heat it was difficult to stay awake, and Shirley finally succumbed, as the photo shows.

The film takes place in 1910. Jane and Michael Banks are two young children who are constantly being ignored by their parents. The father is a banker, so full of a rigid, ordered schedule that he has no place in his life for playful, spontaneous children. The mother is campaigning as a suffragette, and being able to vote is more important to her than taking time for her children. The children continually rebel against the nannies hired to look after them, but the parents are too blind to see this as a cry for help. In steps Mary Poppins, a mysterious woman who arrives and becomes the first nanny that the children care for.

The film is a magical fairytale. It doesn't have the same hold on me now, but I remember it fascinating me when I was young. Who is Mary? A witch? A fairy? An angel? It doesn't matter. What matters is that she loves the children, and she wants to heal the alienation with their father. A weakness in the film is that the mother is also uncaring for the children, but no attempt is made to bring her closer. Maybe the reason for this is that the mother's goals are more idealistic than the father's.

For those who want to buy the film on DVD it costs £7 (approx $11) from Amazon in England, but Americans have to pay $56.95 for it. Something is seriously wrong here.

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