Mary Poppins marks another must-have release on blu-ray for any fan of Disney musicals. The film holds its own some fifty years past its prime, Andrews and Van Dyke are fantastic and fantastically fun, the songs are treasures in and of themselves, and the age of the production has little bearing on the end result.
There’s no villain in Mary Poppins. No elaborate plot, no lives on the line, and really very little at stake, other than the health and happiness of one troubled family. The film’s visual effects and animation compositing haven’t exactly withstood the test of time, and the already meandering story unfolds neatly, not to mention shortly after the turn of the 20th century. And yet Mary Poppins is brisk and effortless, unmistakably whole and surprisingly timely, to the point that watching it again after all these years came as something of a much-needed refreshment.
The word “timeless” is often thrown about at a reviewer’s leisure, almost to the point that it no longer means much of anything. But Mary Poppins is just that: timeless. It comes as no surprise when one hears of parents sharing this film with their children and perhaps when the film is celebrating its 75th Anniversary, they will pass it on to their own children, earning an entirely new generation of young fans enjoying the wit and wisdom of Disney’s kind-hearted and wholesomely nostalgic film.
Mary Poppins has been masterfully restored with great care by Disney engineers. Despite its age, the film looks entirely new and crisp, and has very few faults. The transfer is clear and clean with beautifully saturated colours and well-defined grain. Details leap off the screen and the overall image is incredibly stable. The film is presented in widescreen 1.66:1.
The film’s Dolby 5.1 track is equally impressive and keeps the whimsical nature of the audio completely intact whilst giving it a bombastic punch. The levels are perfectly balanced – lyrics and dialogue are never drowned out and the famous musical numbers stand out as much as they did when you first heard them. Overall, this is a great quality restoration!
Mary Poppins comes packed with an interesting behind the scenes featurette entitled ‘Becoming Mr. Sherman’. It’s an interview between actor Jason Schwartzman and Richard M. Sherman and the two discuss the film’s troubled production as well as some of the music and lyrics. Schwartzman portrays Sherman in the film Saving Mr. Banks and the two go on to discuss that role and Schwartzman’s portrayal of him.
The blu-ray also includes a karaoke style feature that includes music from the film, particularly “Spoon Full of Sugar”; “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee”. It’s a lot of fun for those already familiar with the music and those wishing to learn some of the most notable pieces from the film.
In addition, Disney has included all previous bonus material from DVDs released prior to this 50th Anniversary edition. All are in standard definition but if you’re upgrading from a previous version, you can be sure that no material will be missing in this release.
The Bottom Line
Mary Poppins is a classic and influential film and this 50th Anniversary release does it a lot of justice. The upgrade is only worth making from a standard definition DVD if you consider picture and audio quality paramount to the viewing experience. The new bonus features alone don’t warrant the upgrade in my opinion, but otherwise this should be a welcome new addition to any high-def collection.