Disney Blu-ray enthusiasts have been waiting a very long time for Mary Poppins to be released and the time has finally come. Mary Poppins has been fully-restored just in time for the 50th Anniversary of the film as well as the release of Disney’s newest live-action film, Saving Mr. Banks.
Mary Poppins is based on the classic children’s book of the same name by P.L. Travers. Walt Disney originally approached Travers in the 1940s about buying the rights to Mary Poppins and after twenty years of trying, Disney was finally given the rights to make the movie. Mary Poppins tells the story of the Banks family: George – the neglectful, banker father; Winifred – the distracted, suffragette mother; and their children Jane and Michael. After running another nanny out of the house, Jane and Michael take it upon themselves to write an advertisement for a new nanny. George, unhappy with the children, rips up the letter and throws it in the fireplace. The next day, Mary Poppins flies in with her umbrella and carpet bag and quickly turns their lives upside-down. During her time with the family, Mary Poppins takes the children on adventures into paintings with jack-of-all-trades Bert, teaches them responsibility and words like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and helps bring the family closer than ever before.
Mary Poppins has been fully-restored for the 50th Anniversary Blu-ray and truly has never looked better. That being said, there are pros and cons to the restoration. The positive side is the animation and most of the live-action scenes look incredible. There is a good amount of film grain present, but that is expected for a movie made in the 1960s featuring a lot of bleak, dark scenes around London. The negative side to the restoration shows in the scenes that required special effects. The special effects in the film are without a doubt incredible. Peter Ellenshaw and Eustace Lycett were the two responsible for the effects in Mary Poppins and deserved the Oscar they won for the film’s visual effects. However, when comparing scenes with and without effects, it is evident that there is a loss of quality in the scenes that have effects. There is nothing that can be done to correct this, nor should it be corrected, but it is impossible for some to ignore. The audio sounds crisp, clear and the songs really come to life on this release. Disney even did a 7.1 mix for Mary Poppins which could be considered overkill, but it is perfect for sound enthusiasts.
The special features on this set are a bit of a letdown from what you’d expect from a 50th Anniversary Edition. There are technically only two new extras – all of the others are labeled as ‘Classic Bonus Features’ and have been included in previous DVD releases. Even then, one of the new features is more of a promotion for the new film Saving Mr. Banks rather than a behind the scenes look at Mary Poppins. The classic features are fantastic, and if you’re experiencing them for the first time then it won’t be such a big deal, but more new content should not have been out of the question.
Here’s a list of the bonus features on the disc:
- NEW: ‘Becoming Mr. Sherman’ – A nice conversation between Mary Poppins songwriter Richard Sherman and his Saving Mr. Banks counterpart Jason Schwartzman. You get a little insight into the filming of the new movie as well as a few details from the making of Mary Poppins and the process of writing the legendary songs.
- NEW: ‘Mary-Oke Sing-Along’ – While the name is cringeworthy, this is actually a cute series of animated videos that display the lyrics to all of the popular songs in Mary Poppins. They are well-designed and creative and fun to watch and sing along to.
- Deleted Song – “Chimpanzoo”
- A Magical Musical Reunion with Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and Richard Sherman
- Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making Of Mary Poppins
Blu-ray Release: 3.5
The real shining star of this edition is the movie itself, which looks amazing in its new Blu-ray format. With its digital restoration, not only do the animated sequences of the film look more vibrant and clearer, but the entire film looks new and fresh while keeping the classic charm it’s always had. I think the remastering alone makes it a worthy addition to any Disney fan’s collection, as Mary Poppins is widely accepted as Walt Disney’s masterpiece.
As a whole, there are some letdowns with the edition – mainly the lack of new bonus features. However, the classic ones from the 45th Anniversary are very strong and will continue to please fans by showing an insight into the filming of the movie. The menus of the Blu-ray are also well done and designed for the movie. The main screen shows Mary Poppins sitting on a cloud high above London and the “progress bar” animation while the menu loads might be one of my favorite parts of the edition – it shows Mary and Bert dancing in the animated sequence from the film.
Overall, I say it’s worth getting the 50th Anniversary Edition for the new Blu-ray format of the film alone. I think fans of the movie will be extremely pleased with the quality of the restoration, despite the otherwise lackluster features.
Blu-ray Release: 4.0
I have truly mixed feelings about this Blu-ray release. The film itself is Walt Disney’s masterpiece and stands up against the best movies ever made. It wouldn’t be hard to argue that Mary Poppins is the greatest family movie ever produced. The music by the Sherman Brothers is the best they ever composed and the “Jolly Holiday” sequence is by far the best mixture of live-action and animation to ever be created. The Blu-ray restoration looks spectacular and when watching it, I truly feel like I am viewing it the way it was intended to be seen 50 years ago when Mary Poppins was being filmed. However, the thing that kills this release for me is the bonus features. Disney did include the classic bonus features from the 45th Anniversary DVD release, but the only new features are the Jason Schwartzman/Richard Sherman interview and the now standard and boring Disney karaoke. It would’ve made sense for such an important release to have a few more new bonus features or maybe upgrade some of the older bonus features to high definition quality. As happy as I am to have to film on Blu-ray, I would’ve almost preferred that no special features were attached so that way I can’t be annoyed about the minuscule amount which is present.This is without a doubt a “must-have” Blu-ray for anyone who is a fan of the film and those looking to introduce someone to the film for the first time.