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Mary Poppins Made Me Cry

This year when the Oscar nominations 2014 were announced, I was determined to see at least all of the movies nominated for Best Picture. But when I went to pick a movie to see this weekend, it turns out that, besides the one I have already seen (Philomena), not any of the other nominated best pictures (American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street) interested me in the least.

I ended up choosing Saving Mr. Banks. I ignored all the criticisms that included the film had been “Disneyfied”; P. L. Travers wasn’t as prudish as depicted; and the only song she really liked was actually “Feed the Birds” and not “Let’s go Fly a Kite.” Regardless, I must confess, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It charmed me for two reasons: Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks had real chemistry (subtle even quiet but powerful nonetheless), and I possess a fondness for stories, whether the medium is a movie or a book, that travel back and forth in time.

Mary Poppins and I have a history. Before a single soul in Winnipeg saw it when it was first released in 1964, I was one of about eight people who attended a private screening at the Winnipeg Film Exchange. For this momentous occasion, my father was the projectionist, hence my presence. Of course I was blissfully unaware at the time of how much consternation the dancing penguins had caused P. L. Travers (that was one of my favourite scenes). I started getting sniffly during “Feed the Birds,” but by the end of the visit to Mr. Banks’ bank, I was in full crying mode. It was one of those situations where trying to make myself stop only made it worse. In my defense, (oh what the heck, I’ll let you do the math if you are so inclined) I was just seven.

After it officially opened, I did see it several times. And every single time, Mary Poppins made me cry. I’m sure if I saw it again now, it wouldn’t affect me the same way. However, nothing will diminish my treasured memory of being one of the first in Winnipeg to see Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins (and bawling my eyes out in a screening room at the Winnipeg Film Exchange).

P. S.: Mr. John Lee Hancock, if you are reading this, could you please tell me why the clips of Mary Poppins in Saving Mr. Banks appear flat-looking? My guess is that it has something to do with Cinemascope.

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