I prepared myself to have a similar reaction to Mary Poppins as I had with Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The last time I saw this movie, I was a child. The last time I heard the music from this movie, I was watching home movies of my family. My brothers and I were singing “Stepping Time” on my grandparents’ porch. It’s adorable.
I had a much different experience watching Mary Poppins this time. I didn’t like her. I felt like she was aloof, snobbish, and kind of mean. It was very easy for her to point out everyone’s faults, especially since her special tape measure claims she’s “practically perfect in every way.” She seemed to be especially hard on Bert. How could you be so mean to someone who likes you so much? As a child, I didn’t notice it.
According to my research, Mary Poppins is supposed to be mean. She is supposed to be a harsh character. P.L. Travers, the author of the book, ran out of the theater crying after she saw the movie. She didn’t think Mary Poppins was mean enough. She also didn’t like that the mother gave up being a suffragette to spend time with her family.
Something else came to mind when I watched this as an adult. Is Bert supposed to be homeless? He’s a one man band, a street performer/artist, and a chimney sweep. It doesn’t seem like he has a place to go at night. Poor Bert. He encourages and helps the families Mary Poppins looks after, and she doesn’t care for him. It’s a one sided relationship. She just wants to be friends.
Are there any movies you loved as a child that when watching now you see differently or don’t like at all?
Favorite Line: A thing of beauty is a joy forever
Favorite Character: Bert
Favorite Scene: When they have a party on the rooftops of London with the Chimney Sweeps