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HTF DVD Review: Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition



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#1 of 29 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted January 21 2009 - 07:45 AM

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Mary Poppins
45th Anniversary Edition




Studio: Walt Disney
Year: 1964
US Rating: G - General Audiences.
Film Length: 139 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Original 2.0 Theatrical Mix, French and Spanish Language Tracks
Subtitles: French and Spanish




US Release Date: January 27, 2009
Review Date: January 21, 2009

The Film - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

“Oh, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious, if you say it loud enough, you'll always sound precocious! Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”


Mary Poppins isn’t timeless, but its influence and fanciful delight most certain is. A veritable cavalcade of musical treasures, wishful magic and one of the worst (but loveable) cockney accents ever used on film. The film exists as a jewel in the pantheon of Disney classics with bounds of wonder, heart, imagination and cheerfulness.

It is the spring of 1910 and Mary Poppins is poised above the great city of London in a cloud. While she is perched pleasantly above the grandness of the English capital, we are introduced to Bert, a lively, cockney street entertainer (and chimney sweep) who, speaking directly to us, the audience, gives us a quick tour of a nice neighborhood. In no time at all, we meet the Banks Family – a family in trouble. The Nanny has quit in exacerbation at the two Banks children, Jane and Michael, having runaway yet again. The family is at loose ends with the mother, active in the suffragette movement to afford women the right to vote and Mr. Banks, a detached financier for whom his time and patience does not include his family as they are to be maintained by the Nanny and not intrude on his routine (though he does, of course, love his children).

A replacement Nanny is sought but into the Banks family calmly floats Mary Poppins, an unassuming and disarmingly demure woman who is far from normal. She is an enchanted and strong-willed lady, gifted with a set of unique talents that endear her quickly to the children. She engages their imaginations, at the vexation of Mr. Banks. Memorable moments abound in this treasure, indulged by great special visual effects that earned the film an Oscar, along with four others for Best Score (Composer Irwin Kostal), Song Richard and Robert Sherman), Editing (Cotton Warburton) and Best Actress, Julie Andrews. In total, it received 13 Academy Award nominations.

The remarkable and lasting marvel of Mary Poppins is inherently the product of Julie Andrew’s superb performance and the incredulously catchy musical numbers. No child on this planet older than a few years won’t at some stage in their early life hear the unusual and catchy ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ - Heck even my spell check recognizes the word. We are all universally aware of the notion that a “spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” and no-one who experienced Julie Andrews angelic voice and Dick Van Dyke’s slapstick rumpus could deny a soft spot for the numbers “Chim Chim Cher-ee” or “Feed the Birds”. No, indeed this Walt Disney sumptuous and cherished classic has undeniably earned its cinematic longevity by being the truest embodiment of the indelible and archetypal family treasure. It appeared in theaters for the first time on August 27, 1964. In the subsequent years, prior to the advent of home viewing mechanisms (VHS, Beta through Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-Ray) it appeared in theaters again and again, bringing to audiences the delights that Disney only could. I remember seeing Mary Poppins at the Southampton Cinema with my brother, sister and mum when I was very young, and have long held it close as a special love. Even when it would appear on Television (again, before the market for home ownership of films), it would happily be watched again and again.

The talent onscreen and behind the camera certainly yield great results. Director Robert Stevenson and screenwriters Bill Walsh and Don DiGradi bring the Mary Poppins character, from the beloved book series by P.L. Travers to life with a splendid blending of live action and animation. The Poppins character is a variation on the literal one, and it has come to light through the years that the author was displeased with some of the direction the screen adaptation took. But creative differences aside, what made it to the screen is distinctly Disney and filled with charm and chirping happiness throughout. The animation, animatronics and jovial jubilance that permeate the over two hour running time is still a joy to behold.





The Video- Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Mary Poppins is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and uses the same digitally restored transfer from the 40th anniversary release from 2004. Despite some unavoidable softness, the colors and energy is vibrant. Occasional dirt can be found, but only occasionally and is most noticeable during the opening titles. But for the greater majority of the film, it is cleaned up and free of issues as never before at home.

The only points of note, beyond a little debris are resultant of the films age. The effects, matte painting blended with live action suffer the most, but all in all, look better than ever before. Colors are rich and very warm – skin tones reflect that warmth and blacks are deeper than you might expect. Disney has done a fine job with this release.



The Sound - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Disney has provided an expanded Dolby Digital 5.1 option in addition to the original 2.0 theatrical mix. The 5.1 option is front laden with some swift surround activity during musical moments. But for the most part, the center channel and front left and right carry the weight of the audio. Appropriate for its year, the sound is fuller, softer and higher in the treble and the 5.1 mix gives us just a little more by way of the rear speakers and a little punch in the sub-woofer. The sound is of surprisingly good quality given its age and will please newcomers and longtime fans alike. Those who care about true preservation will thoroughly enjoy the original 2.0 theatrical mix that has been included.


The Extra's - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Disc One
Music & More:
Disney Song Selection: Jump directly to 8 songs from the film, available with optional onscreen lyrics.

Backstage Disney:
Audio Commentary with Julie Andrews, Karen Dotrice, Richard Sherman, Robert Sherman & Dick Van Dyke.
Poppings Pop-up Fun Facts
Fun facts about Mary Poppins pop-up on screen as you watch the film.

Disc Two
Disney on Broadway:
Mary Poppins: From Page to Stage- (48:04) –Disney brings yet another of its film classic to the stages of Broadway. This look at the people and process of adapting the story to the theatre setting is quite well done. We meet the principle individuals responsible for creating it, including producers, composer, lyricists and scenic directors. Involved and well produced, this is more interesting than you might expect.


’Step In Time’: Musical Number from Mary Poppins on Broadway - (7:08) – An exclusive look at a musical number from the show featuring chimney sweeps.

Bob Crowley’s Design Gallery – Bob Crowley, costumer designer for the Broadway production introduces a look a series of drawings from the show broken into four segments; Costume Designs, Concept Art, Set Design and Set Models. You can page through the designs, enlarging images that catch your interest.

Download and MP3 of “Step In Time”– Insert the disc into a DVD-Rom to get a copy of the song sung by the cast.


Backstage Disney:
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making of Mary Poppins - (50:42) – A detailed look at the production of the film with interviews with Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and other cast members and composer/lyricists. This was created for the 40th anniversary release and provides a superb look at the films production, impact and longevity.

Movie Magic - (7:05) – A look at the creation of the effects used in the film; effects of all kinds – from matte paintings, props, animatronics and others.
The Gala World Premiere - (17:45) – Archival footage from the television and radio broadcasts of the films premier. Though not all the complete film and sound elements have made it through the years, this special feature presents recently discovered elements found in the vaults of Disney.

Dick Van Dyke Make-up Test - (1:07) – Dick Van Dyke, donning make-up to create the old man (his second character in the film) is shown here with Dyke telling us how he got that role.

Publicity - (00:00) – A bevy of publicity available here as follows:
Original Theatrical Teaser Trailer
Original Theatrical Trailer
Julie Andrew’s Premiere Greeting
Original TV Spot #1
Original TV Spot #2
1966 Re-Issue Trailer
1973 Re-Issue Trailer #1
1973 Re-Issue Trailer #2

Mary Poppins Still Art Gallery - (00:00) – Broken into segments:
Visual Development
Story Development
Peter Ellenshaw Paintings
Recording Sessions
Costumes & Make-Up
Behind the Scenes
Cast Photos
Walt & Friends
The Premiere
Publicity
Memorabilia

Music & More
A Magical Musical Reunion featuring Julie Andrew, Dick Van Dyke and Richard Sherman - (17:18) – The two principle adult actors and one half of the musical force discuss and reminisce about the making of and magic of Mary Poppins. With Sherman at the piano and the two actors standing by him, stories from so many years ago come alive, including how the critically lauded song ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’ came about.

A Musical Journey with Richard Sherman - (20:51) – Richard Sherman takes us through some of the musical sequences and we get rare glimpses at making of footage and unused songs. These looks back at creating the music, with photos and film footage that Disney has shared on the anniversary discs are quite the treat.

Deleted Song: “Chimpanzoo” - (1:38) – Richard Sherman plays this deleted song with storyboards of the sequence.

Bonus Short - (9:52) – “The Cat that Looked at a King” from “Mary Poppins Opens the Door” by P.L. Travers






Final Thoughts

Mary Poppins is as delightful today as when I first experienced its magic on the big screen, which for me was the early 1980’s. Even amongst today’s children’s films laden with clean effects it manages to hold up well, with its never realistic settings and endless inventive effects – it is crammed with fun and heart. This superb 45th Anniversary Edition loving produces the film’s magic and provides a wonderful set of special features that reflect warmly upon the experience of perhaps Walt Disney’s most beloved live-action film classic. With a quality image and audio presentation, a good set of extra features (that tilt toward adults) and the chance to share this great film with a new generation of kids, this latest edition of Mary Poppins is a worthy purchase.


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Neil Middlemiss
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#2 of 29 Joe Caps

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Posted January 21 2009 - 08:01 AM

I'm surprised at two things in your review - your liking the 5.1 remix, which I'm sure is the same one used on the last release and was pretty much universalya damned for all of the fake reverb added to the track - a horrifying remix for no good reason at all.

the 2.0 mix isthe originasl 4.0 mix mixed down to 2.0

Mary Poppins opened at Radio City Music hall and was 4.0 with tons of surround - orchestra on all the musical numbers and sound effects too.

The radio city print had a built in intermission (right after the song stay awake with entracte music). Doisney still has not found this.

I have seen on the net, two different artworks for this new release - which one did you guys get?

#3 of 29 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted January 21 2009 - 09:33 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Caps
I'm surprised at two things in your review - your liking the 5.1 remix, which I'm sure is the same one used on the last release and was pretty much universalya damned for all of the fake reverb added to the track - a horrifying remix for no good reason at all.

I cannot speak to that (and, just now having looked, could not find such universal damning) but this 5.1 mix was great. I recommend you renting/borrowing and checking out for yourself.
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#4 of 29 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted January 21 2009 - 09:34 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Caps
I have seen on the net, two different artworks for this new release - which one did you guys get?

The version shown in Ron's image above is the version I have in hand.

Let me know if you end up picking this up - I would be interested to know what you think of it. Thanks!
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#5 of 29 Joseph Bolus

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Posted January 21 2009 - 10:03 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Caps
I'm surprised at two things in your review - your liking the 5.1 remix, which I'm sure is the same one used on the last release and was pretty much universalya damned for all of the fake reverb added to the track - a horrifying remix for no good reason at all.

Joe,

According to a review posted at another site, the awful DD 5.1 "Enhanced Home Theater" mix that was provided on the 40th Anniversary Release is, thankfully, gone!!

The DD 5.1 mix provided for this release is *brand new*! Posted Image
Joseph
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#6 of 29 Rob_Ray

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Posted January 21 2009 - 10:19 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss
I cannot speak to that (and, just now having looked, could not find such universal damning) but this 5.1 mix was great. I recommend you renting/borrowing and checking out for yourself.

There was indeed universal damning as the 5.1 "Home Theatre" mix was a travesty. Here's an easy way to tell if the 5.1 has been redone for this latest release: listen to the original mix in the shot during the opening titles in which we find Mary Poppins sitting in a cloud. You hear music and not much else. Now listen to the 5.1 mix. If you hear gale force winds and a "thud" as she parks her umbrella in the cloud, it's the dreaded 5.1 "Home Theatre" mix.

#7 of 29 oldac3

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Posted January 21 2009 - 01:06 PM

I'm trying to decide if this is worth a triple dip. I don't remember the 40th track being that bad. I'll have to check it out again. Thanks for the thorough review!

#8 of 29 Chuck Pennington

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Posted January 22 2009 - 01:19 AM

Also listen to the added new sound effects, such as the shot when they all jump into the chalk picture. The "original" mix (I put that in quotes because it should be 4.0, not a 2.0 matrixed surround version) has no special sound effect, but the Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix has a "poof" sound effect added, not to mention all the sounds of galloping in the horse race that were replaced and the thunder and rain that was new at the end of the musical sequence. I guess they call this "sweetening", but why on earth fudge up the original sound mix with NEW sounds?

#9 of 29 Mike Frezon

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Posted January 22 2009 - 05:18 AM

Uh oh. I was thinking I could sit this one out and wait for a Blu-ray release...but if there's a good Surround track on this 45th anniversary release...

Count me as among those surprised that Disney would re-do the 5.1 track from five years ago.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#10 of 29 AL KUENSTER

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Posted January 22 2009 - 09:32 AM

Neil is that release date correct? I'm assuming it should be 2009 not 2008
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#11 of 29 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted January 22 2009 - 09:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by AL KUENSTER
Neil is that release date correct? I'm assuming it should be 2009 not 2008

Al - Good catch - Not sure why I would want to hold onto last year at all - I have corrected it to reflect the right year!
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#12 of 29 rich_d

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Posted January 22 2009 - 01:04 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Frezon
Uh oh. I was thinking I could sit this one out and wait for a Blu-ray release...but if there's a good Surround track on this 45th anniversary release...

Count me as among those surprised that Disney would re-do the 5.1 track from five years ago.

Each to his own, but the 40th year edition had a fine 2.0 track. I'll be damned if I'll reward Disney for NOT providing a hi-def option and merely fixing what they should have gotten right with the 5.1 track last time. They can shove it.

#13 of 29 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted January 23 2009 - 06:12 AM

I am happy enough with the 2.0 track on the previous release to hold out for a BD version as my next upgrade. Even though I am not purchasing it, I am glad to hear they are not foisting that DEHT poor excuse for a 5.1 remix on consumers any more.

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#14 of 29 Erik_H

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Posted January 25 2009 - 01:24 AM

Thanks for the review and the good news about the revised 5.1 track. Now I have to decide whether to upgrade now or wait for the (hopefully inevitable) Blu-Ray release.

A quick caveat about the comment "Even when it would appear on Television (again, before the market for home ownership of films)..."

"Mary Poppins" was the first classic Disney film to be released on home video (the first Disney animated classic to arrive on home video, "Pinocchio," came a few years after "Poppins"). The film was released on Beta and VHS within a year of its last wide theatrical reissue in 1980. At the time of its home video debut, "Mary Poppins" had not yet aired on television. The first airing on television---I think it aired as a special edition of "The Wonderful World of Disney" on ABC---was probably in the mid-80s.

#15 of 29 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted January 25 2009 - 04:25 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik_H
Thanks for the review and the good news about the revised 5.1 track. Now I have to decide whether to upgrade now or wait for the (hopefully inevitable) Blu-Ray release.

A quick caveat about the comment "Even when it would appear on Television (again, before the market for home ownership of films)..."

"Mary Poppins" was the first classic Disney film to be released on home video (the first Disney animated classic to arrive on home video, "Pinocchio," came a few years after "Poppins"). The film was released on Beta and VHS within a year of its last wide theatrical reissue in 1980. At the time of its home video debut, "Mary Poppins" had not yet aired on television. The first airing on television---I think it aired as a special edition of "The Wonderful World of Disney" on ABC---was probably in the mid-80s.

Good to know - I guess I remember seeing it on TV before we got a VHS in the house and rented it (I grew up in the UK so we would have been a little behind you guys). Thanks!
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#16 of 29 Jonathan Burk

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Posted January 27 2009 - 12:33 PM

That's great news about the soundtrack! I didn't know they had redone it, and just watched the 40th anniversary edition with my daughter on Sunday. The 2.0 "original" mix was great, but I'm glad they've recognized the mistakes made for the Enhanced mix.

Looking forward to seeing the stage show when it comes to LA!

#17 of 29 Dennis.Kr

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Posted January 27 2009 - 11:06 PM

The 5.1 (non-DEHT) track must have been available for quite some time. I've checked my German dvd (the equivalent to your "40th Anniversary Edition", which I own as well) and it contains the unaltered 5.1 tracks for both German and English. So Disney might have gone back to the unaltered track without even having to revise it.

#18 of 29 WilliamMcK

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Posted January 28 2009 - 02:28 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik_H
The first airing on television---I think it aired as a special edition of "The Wonderful World of Disney" on ABC---was probably in the mid-80s.

I have nothing but my memory to back this up, but I'm pretty sure the first U.S. over-the-air broadcast of POPPINS was on CBS in the early '80's (and not part of Disney's TV variety programming). I had a videotape of this broadcast and it remained my principal home video copy until the advent of DVD's. I remember that when ABC did broadcast it as part of the Wonderful World of Disney a few years later (with Michael Eisner hosting) the print looked better than the version shown on CBS, but there were many more breaks for commercials.

#19 of 29 ScottR

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Posted January 28 2009 - 04:32 AM

I remember Poppins being shown in the very early 1980's....like 1981.

#20 of 29 Eric Vedowski

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Posted January 28 2009 - 05:52 AM

Sunday November 22, 1981 on CBS "first time on network television" per Chicago Tribune via ProQuest Historical Newspapers.





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