MARY POPPINS 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray Review – Available December 10, 2013

Mary Poppins herself sums it up perfectly in this quote from the film: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”  To celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of this practically perfect Disney classic, the film has received an all-new digital restoration and is being released from the vault for the first time on Blu-Ray this Tuesday, December 10th.  Just in time not only for the holiday season, but also for the December 20th opening of Disney’s SAVING MR. BANKS, a film inspired by the tale of what Walt Disney and his team encountered as they tried to acquire the rights to Mary Poppins from the book’s author, P.L. Travers.  Continue reading for our review of MARY POPPINS 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy.

THE BASICS

Audio Options: English, French, and Spanish
Subtitle Options: English, French, and Spanish (film content only)

PREVIEWS

  • A movie trailer for the theatrical release of Saving Mr. Banks, opening in theaters on December 20, 2013.  (You can watch the trailer here.)
  • A trailer for the February 2014 release of the Jungle Book Diamond Edition Blu-Ray/DVD)
  • A public service type commercial featuring scenes from Pinocchio, talking about the dangers of second hand smoke, which was sort of odd and out of place.

MENU LAYOUT

The main menu showcases the beautiful matte painting from the film’s opening sequence by artist & Disney Legend, Peter Ellenshaw.  Mary Poppins sits atop her cloud as she floats over London, accompanied by her carpet bag and umbrella.  The menu itself is simple but intuitive.  There are no flashy or clever segue’s once an option is chosen, the screen just goes to black while the next screen loads.

Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray DVD (1)

Peter Ellenshaw’s matte painting of London as seen in the opening sequence of Mary Poppins, on display at the 2013 D23 Expo. The “hole” in the sky is where they animated Mary on her cloud in the film.

 

FEATURE FILM

Widely considered to be Walt Disney’s best live action film of all time, Mary Poppins remains a timeless classic that continues to delight audiences of all ages.  The all-new digital restoration done for this 50th anniversary edition comes with pros and cons.  Like anything shown in HD, the viewer is able to see the actors in greater detail, and things like make-up, sweat, scars, etc., are much more apparent.  Not that these things should be the focus of the film, but sometimes they sort of pop out of the screen, pulling your attention away from the scene.  More than that, some of the special effects have been compromised due to the new restoration.  Particularly in the scenes where Mary Poppins sorts through her carpet bag, as well as the “Spoonful of Sugar” sequence in the nursery.  Even into my adulthood, I’d watch these scenes in awe of the movie magic, not being able to see any lines or wires in the screen as they simply “snapped” the toys into place.  The restoration makes these lines and cuts much more obvious to the viewer.  On the pro side, the “Jolly Holiday” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” segments look more beautiful than ever!   The animation and live-action sequences blend just beautifully.

©Disney

©Disney

 

SPECIAL FEATURES

There are a LOT of special features, although, most of the items included here were part of the 40th Anniversary Edition 2-Disc DVD.  If you already own that, you may have seen most of these before.  If not, you’re in for a real treat! Everything listed here is included on the Blu-Ray disc, along with the feature film. I appreciated that it was all on one disc, I hate having to switch just to see the bonus content.

Becoming Mr. Sherman (All-New):  Jason Schwartzman, who portrays Richard Sherman in Saving Mr. Banks , sits down with the Disney Legend to talk about the role Mr. Sherman and his brother, Robert Sherman, played in the making of Mary Poppins.  Richard thoughtfully declares that watching scenes from Saving Mr. Banks was “like watching old home movies”, and seeing him become emotional over the footage is truly touching.  Clips that include demo’s of the Sherman brothers playing and singing the songs over concept art for the film will be sure to satisfy anyone who enjoys learning about Disney history. Listening to Richard recount his experience and the process of writing the music for Mary Poppins, and what it was like to work with Walt Disney is all incredibly moving.  Tissues may be required for this piece.  Well, at least they were for me (although my husband looked at me like I was a tad crazy for crying, but hey, I’m sappy. What can I say?).

Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray DVD (3)

(L-R) Disney Legend Richard Sherman, Jason Schwartzman, BJ Novak and Tim O’Day perform a song from Mary Poppins at the 2013 D23 Expo.

Mary-OKE (All-New):  Here, you can choose one of your favorite songs for your very own Mary Poppins karaoke, selections include: “Spoonful of Sugar“, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious“, “Step in Time“, and “Chim-Chim-Cheree“.  The words come up in varying fonts at a rapid pace from across all points of the screen, all the while dancing and flipping around.  They aren’t set to the actual scenes from the film, it’s just music and graphics making it very difficult to follow along.  I really didn’t find this enjoyable, and there was no real “karaoke” element.  Thankfully, this isn’t the only sing-along option on the disc, more on that later.

Classic Bonus Features:  This is where the bulk of the special features are found, and have carried over from the previous DVD releases.

  • Bonus Short – The Cat That Looked at a King: From 2004, Julie Andrews takes two children into a chalk painting where animation and live action come together, a la Mary Poppins’ “Jolly Holiday” sequence.  Although, it isn’t nearly as charming, or as striking.
  • Audio Commentary: Here, Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke are discussing the film together, then Richard Sherman and Karen Dotrice (actress that portrayed Jane Banks) are together, interspersed with audio clips from the likes of Walt Disney, Robert Sherman, and Robert Stevenson (director).  Difficult to describe because I’ve never heard anything like it.  While there are certainly interesting anecdotes shared throughout the commentary, it was just bizarre.  It would’ve been better had they just allowed for 2 or 3 versions of the commentary so we could hear from the groups separately.
  • Disney on Broadway: There were 2 specials in this section, see below.
  1. Mary Poppins – From Page to Stage:  This highly produced segment spotlights the making of Mary Poppins: The Musical, including interviews with the cast, producers and song \writers.
  2. Step in Time:  George Stiles, composer of the Broadway production, talks about the making of the show’s “Step in Time” scene, followed by the full scene from the show.
  • Backstage Disney: With 8 separate specials, this is where I spent the bulk of my time on the special features.  For those that love to peek behind-the-curtain, there is so much to see here!
Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray DVD (4)

Photo from the set of Mary Poppins on display at the 2013 D23 Expo.

 

  1. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – The Making of Mary Poppins:  Hosted by the always charming Dick Van Dyke, this is an in-depth look at many of the necessary facets that went into the making of the film. From the difficulty Walt Disney had in acquiring the rights to the story from author P.L. Travers, to the hoops she made the Sherman Brothers jump through, how the actors were cast in the film, to their costumes, choreography, special effects, animation and more.  While it’s worth noting that Saving Mr. Banks is inspired by the true story of the making of the films, this fabulous featurette tells the real-life story.  While this isn’t new to the 50th anniversary edition, it is the perfect time to watch it.
  2. The Gala World Premiere: Original footage of the celebrity arrivals to the film’s world premiere in August 1964, including Walt Disney, Julie Andrews, and Dick Van Dyke.
  3. The Gala World Premiere Party:  Celebrities are interviewed about their thoughts on the film during the after party.
  4. Making Magic: This seemed like it may have been a special for the Disney Channel, with a very young sounding narrator.  This piece reveals some of the secrets behind a handful of the film’s special effects.  The narrative really made it seem that this was produced for a younger audience, so it may be appropriate for kids, but I’d leave it to you to determine just how far behind the curtain you think they’re ready to peek.
  5. Deconstruction of a Scene – “Jolly Holiday”:  Here, the entire  “Jolly Holiday” scene is shown with the complete audio, however, visually it’s made up of clips from the actual scene, behind-the-scenes footage, and even some outtakes thrown in.  Even without any interviews or explanations, the clips tell such a detailed story of how the scene was put together.  You can also really see the chemistry between Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.  If you love them on screen together in the film, you may love them even more here.  They’re so endearing.
  6. Deconstruction of a Scene – “Step in Time”: Following the same concept as above, but set to “Step in Time”.  It’s mersmerizing.
  7. Dick Van Dyke Make-Up Test:  Clips of make-up application and film tests for his role as the banker, Mr. Dawes, Sr.
  8. Publicity:  Various trailers from the original theatrical release, and several of the film’s re-releases over the years.
  • Music & More: There are 3 final specials in this section.
  1. A Mary Poppins Musical Reunion: Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews and Richard Sherman talk about the writing process, and making the music.  Any time these three Disney Legends are on screen is pure gold.
  2. Deleted Song – “Chimpanzoo”:  Set to concept art for the cut scene,  a demo of the song is played in it’s entirety. It sounds an awful lot like “Me Ol’ Bamboo” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, another film the Sherman Brothers penned the music for.
  3. Disney Song Selection:  This is what the Mary-OKE should be, and realistically, with this already on the disc, there is no need for the Mary-OKE at all!  Once you make your song selection, it shows the actual scene from the film, with subtitles that you can easily sing along to.

Personally, as a fan of Disney history, and this being one of my absolute favorite films of all time, there were several segments that I loved.  Among my top picks are the all new Becoming Mr. Sherman, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making of Mary Poppins, and the two Deconstruction of a Scene segments.  These are all well worth the time investment, and you walk away with the feeling that the entire experience for the cast & crew truly was kismet.  That for all the trials and hardships it took to bring the story to life, the film was made exactly as it was meant to be.   Just please take note that many of the on screen tricks are revealed in these segments, so it may not be a good fit for the film’s younger admirers.

Are you planning to pick up the 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray when it’s released on Tuesday, December 10th?  Which is your favorite Disney live-action film?  For more family movie news, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Chrysty Summers

Growing up in southern California, Disneyland has always been a staple for my family. Today, my husband and I spend most of our free time at the parks, where you can usually find us soaking up the atmosphere of Buena Vista Street in California Adventure. We also love traveling to Walt Disney World as often as we can, especially during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival in the Fall! Find me on Twitter @PenelopePeach for live updates from around the parks.