Saturday, 24 December 2016

Mary Poppins (5 Stars)


Beautiful. Magical. "Mary Poppins" is a Christmas film without being about Christmas. We're carried into a different world where everything is possible if we just look up to the skies rather than looking down at our feet.

I'm surprised that I only gave this film four stars the last time I watched it. Maybe the heat beating down on my head in Brindley Place made it too difficult for me to fully enjoy it. Whatever the case, my rating was wrong.

This is a children's film, but also full of social criticism that adults can pick up. Having "Saving Mr. Banks" in the back of my mind made a few details obvious to me that I might otherwise have missed.

What I take for myself on watching the film today is the contrast between the world of women and the world of men. The world of women is bright and colourful, while the world of men is dark and dismal. Men have banks where the only thing worth doing with money is using it to make more money. And what do you do when you have more money? You use it to make even more. What else?

Winifred Banks, the children's mother, wants to enter the world of men. Votes For Women! She's demanding the right of women to participate in men's affairs, choosing which men should rule over them. Mary Poppins takes the opposite course. She invites men, in particular George Banks, to enter the world of women. Men should learn to express emotion and take time for the education and entertainment of children. However well-intentioned Winifred Banks' motivations were, she was wrong. By striving to become more like a man she was neglecting her children and becoming less like a woman. She was giving up everything that makes Woman special. Winifred Banks wanted to be chained to railings when she could have been flying in the sky.

"Mary Poppins" is a timeless story, as relevant now as it was in 1964. On December 26th, two days from now, the Mary Poppins musical is premiering in Stuttgart, with a full German cast singing in German. The musical will be performed all January, for people who want to spend 130 Euros on a good ticket. I've heard a few of the songs and they're surprisingly good. The trick to translating songs is to write new texts with a similar message that fit the original melody. Accurate one-to-one translations don't work. Only a skilled musical composer can translate songs.

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