Mary Poppins (50th Anniversary Edition): Review

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Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition – Available Now

by Aaron Einhorn
We all know the classic Disney film of Mary Poppins. Even if we haven’t seen the film in its entirety, it’s pretty much impossible to live in 21st Century America without having seen clips from the film, or at a bare minimum, being familiar with the songs “Supercalifragilisticexpalidocious,” “A Spoonful of Sugar” or “Chim Chim Cheree.” But most of us have seen the film, and have been enchanted by P.L. Travers’ enchanted nanny who comes to save the Banks family, and we are lucky to have done so.

Now, just in time for the release of Saving Mr. Banks the film based (loosely) on how Walt Disney acquired the rights to make Mary Poppins, Disney has released Mary Poppins for the first time on Blu-Ray. We were lucky enough to be given a review copy of the Blu-Ray, and we were all-too excited to rip the shrink-wrapping off the case and throw it into our player.

And how is it? Read on.

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Official Synopsis
Released from the Disney Vault in celebration of its 50th Anniversary, this beloved classic shines like never before on Blu-ray with an all-new digital restoration. Winner of five Academy Awards (1964), including Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Song (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”) and Best Special Visual Effects, Mary Poppins is a movie experience your family will enjoy over and over again.

“Practically Perfect in Every Way” Mary Poppins flies out of the windy London skies and into the home of two mischievous children. With the help of a carefree chimney sweep named Bert (Dick Van Dyke), the spirited nanny turns every chore into a game and every day into a “Jolly Holiday.” Share the music, the magic, and the joy of Mary Poppins with a whole new generation for the first time on Disney Blu-ray.

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The Feature
I’m not going to waste time recapping the tale of Mary Poppins here. Either you’re familiar with the tale of Mary Poppins, Bert, and the Bankses, or you’ve been living under a rock. I will, however, say that if you haven’t seen the film yet, you owe it to yourself to do so. We shared the movie with Cordy and Mira for the first time on our way down to Walt Disney World last year, and they were so in love with it that they insisted that they had to make sure to visit Mary “along with all of the other Princesses” when we went to the parks. Sadly, due to a freak rainstorm, they didn’t manage to see Mary Poppins when we were in the England section of Epcot, but we’ll be correcting that next time we visit.

All that said, you may have seen Mary Poppins before, but you haven’t seen it like this – unless you’ve been fortunate enough to see one of the restored 35mm prints. The digital restoration of the movie is absolutely breathtaking, and it almost feels like you’re watching a brand new movie when you watch this Blu-ray.

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Bonus Features
Disney has never been one to skimp out on the Bonus Features, and thanks to the depth of the Disney Vault, each new release manages to have something new attached. In this particular case, we get a “Making of” documentary titled “Supercalifragilisticexpalidocious: The Making of Mary Poppins,” which is fun, but is fairly standard fare. We also get “A Magical Musical Reunion With Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and Richard Sherman” which is astonishingly fun. It may have been fifty years since the making of the film, but these three show how they really managed to capture magic in a bottle when this movie was made. In addition, we are treated to the deleted song “Chimpanzoo.” It’s a fun song, but there’s no reason why it needed to be included. Still, Disney fans will enjoy it.

These features have been presented in previous releases, but they’re still pretty great.

In terms of new features, we get “Becoming Mr. Sherman” which contains a conversation between Richard Sherman and Jason Schwartzman, who plays Sherman in Saving Mr. Banks as Sherman discusses the process of writing the songs of Mary Poppins, along with an all new “Mary-Oke Sing-Along.”

The one thing I miss is the Second Screen experience which seemed like it was becoming the new standard for Disney’s releases/re-releases. On the other hand, the Second Screen might have just distracted me from the joy of seeing Mary Poppins, Bert and the Banks children all over again, so perhaps they made the right call.

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The Look
Mary Poppins won the Oscar for visual effects when it was released, and the beauty of the film and the seamless blending of animation and live-action actors has been apparent in all of the previous releases of the movie. But the digital restoration of this Blu-Ray brings the film to visual life in an all new way. If you are especially eagle-eyed, you can find some legacies of the transfer and restoration, but for the rest of us, what we end up with is a beautiful re-release of a film that most of us have seen, but have never been able to see in its full glory.

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The Sound
The music of Mary Poppins is well-known and full of classics, but just as most of us have never seen Mary Poppins in the same vivid splendor that the original theatrical experience presented, we also haven’t experienced the music in the same way. Until now. The soundtrack has received the same tender restoration as the print, and the music is crisp and clear and beautiful in Dolby 7.1 sound.

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Final Thoughts
Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition is a masterful release, and if you don’t already own a copy of the film, it’s a splendid addition to any Disney fans’ library. If you already own the previous DVD release, you don’t need to rush out to replace it with this version, but you certainly won’t be disappointed if you do. Cordy and Mira couldn’t explain why the film seemed so much more alive this time than the last time they saw it, but they could tell that it was “better.” Christina and I could describe the improvements once we stopped to think about them, but this is honestly a hard movie to be a critic of when it simply demands that you throw yourself into the experience.

I am overjoyed to be able to add Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition to my library, and I think you’ll feel the same way.

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