My favorite movie is Mary Poppins and with the sequel Mary Poppins: Returns, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, just around the corner I have been reminiscing about why I love the original movie so much and what it means to me. Everything in Mary Poppins from the story, the characters, the visuals, and the music is “Practically Perfect In Every Way”, but the main reason I love the film is because it had the single greatest impact on my life, In fact, I would even go as far to say that Mary Poppins saved my life.
Mary Poppins came into my life, during the most difficult time I’ve had so far. My mother passed away and I was trying to grieve and figure out what to do next. Shortly after I had to move to a different state and my mental health became the worst it has ever been. I felt so disconnected from everyone and everything around me, but I felt especially distant from my family. Losing a parent, especially at a young age is something that defines you for the rest of your life, there is no simple answer on how to cope with it and I had very few people in my life who really understood what I was going through and could help me. For a long time, I had no idea how I was going to go on. I was angry, bitter and cynical. I had resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to be happy ever again, because nothing, even the things I used to enjoy made me happy anymore.
Unlike a lot of kids, I didn’t grow up watching Mary Poppins. I grew up on Superhero Movies, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and The Terminator and there didn’t seem to be any place in my heart for a singing Magic Nanny and Dancing Penguins. When I first sat to watch it when I was 16, I was convinced that it wouldn’t be anything more than a dumb kids movie, that might distract me from my own mind for a couple of hours, but I was so wrong.
Mary Poppins at its core is about a broken family full of broken people, coming back together again. The Banks family seems utterly hopeless at the beginning of the film with a father that only cares about work and prestige, a mother who neglects her children because she’s too wrapped up in her own interests, and two children who feel like the only way they can get their parents attention is by acting out. Then Mary Poppins literally flies into their lives and begins to fix things. This Story may seem simple and formulaic, and in some ways it is, but it was exactly what I needed at that point in my life.
I was broken, and I had no hope of ever being put back together again, but when I watched Mary Poppins, it made me feel like someday I could be. It was the only thing that made me feel something other than anger and bitterness and the more I watched it, the more I felt the walls I had I had built up slowly chip away. I remember smiling ear to ear during “Jolly Holiday” and“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and crying during “Feed The Birds,” “A Man Has Dreams,” and “Let’s Go Fly A Kite.” Mary Poppins was an escape from everything going on around, no matter what was happening or how I was feeling I could watch Mary Poppins and it would never fail to make me feel better.
This film not only offered me an escape when I needed it the most, but also a character I could look up to. I used to say that I wished a “Real Mary Poppins” would fly into my life and take me on adventures, but one day I realized that Mary Poppins was very much real to me. She helped me lose some of my cynical, pessimistic worldviews, she helped me stop being so angry all the time, she showed me the magic of life when nothing or no one else really could and that even though bad things happen in life it is still worth living. She helped me heal from the trauma of losing my mom, by offering me moments of happiness, even if they were brief. She changed me for the better and what could be more real than that?
As corny as it sounds the magic has never really gone away for me. No matter how much I’ve changed and grown over the years, it remains a constant source of joy in my life. I still watch it several times a year and I love it more now than I did back then. My hope is that with Mary Poppins Returns, a whole new generation of people will be introduced to this Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious character and world.