Jan 21st 2012, 16:27
www.unsungfilms.com, by Georgia Xanthopoulou
Christmas is always linked with fairytales and all things magic. Perhaps because it is a holiday during which people allow themselves to dream that flying reindeers and a never-aging Santa Claus who travels the whole world in a single night exist and men are wise. At least three of them. And that’s why if you turn any TV on, you will get all sorts of movies about Christmas miracles, mischievous elves and Bad Santas. However, my personal favourite movie to watch sometime during my Christmas Holidays is Mary Poppins.
Admittedly, Mary Poppins isn’t considered a Christmas movie since it’s not set during Christmas time, it doesn’t mention Santa and…, let’s face it, has not even a tiny bit of snow in it. Still, Mary Poppins has some of the most classic elements that make it one of the most fitting films to watch this time of the year.
First and foremost, it is a fairytale, of the most fun-filled ones, I would say. Just imagine popping in and out of chalk pictures, consorting with racehorse persons, hunting talking foxes, tea parties on the ceiling and highly questionable outings of every other kind. Mary Poppins is definitely a film about the joy of being a kid, or never growing up. Mary’s magical powers don’t just impress the kids but they also establish the film as one of the most enchanting and amusing of the Disney Films.
Moreover, the film suits this holiday perfectly because of its ideological standpoint as well. While, in the books the film is based on, Mary Poppins is a bit more mysterious and strict, the films goes down a road mandatory for every Disney production: Family friendly. To say the least. Mary Poppins is an ode to the institution of family. And the character of Mary is there to, ultimately, reinforce that notion. Even though she is not received well by George Banks, the head of the family, she is always very adamant when it comes to the kids obeying their father’s orders. More than that, she is there in order to make sure that the kids have the relationship they need to have with their father who, before Mary Poppins takes charge, is too absorbed by his work to really be a father to them. As is their mother, who is so taken by first-wave feminism that she‘s not able to really take care of them. Mary Poppins is there to remind them that family comes first. Mothers are mothers first and then feminists, if at all. And fathers work because they need to provide for their family and not because they should make their bosses money. In fact, the film comes very close to being very progressive by having George quitting the bank he works at when he realises that his job has sucked all the fun out of him and has alienated him from his family. If that was the end of George’s career in the financial sector, it would also signal the rejection of capitalism exactly because it prevents people from connecting with each other. However, in keeping with the tradition of most Disney films, George goes even further up the corporate ladder. Loyalty to family apparently pays off and the happy ending leaves the Banks family reunited, happier, carefree and richer!
Mary Poppins is otherwise flawed, as well. Dick Van Dyke has one of the worst cockney accents ever shown on the big screen but he still is one of the most adorable and cool chimney sweepers I’ve ever come across. Also, even though it’s, mainly, a happy film it deals with the inevitability of death as well. Almost, since the man who dies does it in the best way possible. So, I’m actually going to put that down as another testament to the surreal fun that Mary Poppins is all about. Add some singing penguins, a full on musical number by chimney sweepers on the smoky rooftops of London town and over-effective time signalling cannons and you have a movie more mischievously funny, charming, heart warming and full of magic than the best ‘Christmas movies’ out there!
Georgia Xanthopoulou at www.unsungfilms.com
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