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Mary Poppins Can’t Return Fast Enough: An Adult In the Room Is the Best Fantasy of 2018

October 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Jodi Eichler-Levine, Salon

Wanted: A nanny for one dysfunctional country trapped in a cycle of toxic masculinity

Based on the enormous reception its full trailer received, “Mary Poppins Returns” may well be the hit of this coming holiday movie season. But we need Mary Poppins — and not just the Disney version — stat, in this age of #MeToo and our national search for sanity and wholeness. Mary Poppins promises a balm for our weary psyches and a woman who will get things done — not necessarily through magic, but through the power of the everyday — a no-nonsense woman of great depth whose visage is not just fantastic, but eminently sensible.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Mary Poppins and her author, Pamela Travers (nee Lyndon Goff) as I watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testify before senators last week, my stomach heaving as she evinced utter clinical professionalism while describing sexual assault, including the vicious laughter of her assailants that she could not forget. I thought: What would Mary Poppins do?

In the trailer for the new film, Blunt evokes a good deal of the hauteur of Mary Poppins that is more evident in the books than in the 1964 Disney classic. Mary Poppins is not a saccharine figure. She is, in fact, a stern, haughty, vain one—and a great power. In the trailer, she comes from the sky, brought in on a kite just as in the book “Mary Poppins Comes Back.” She is a salvific figure aloft on the shining clouds, come again to save the Banks family, and with them, all of us, the viewers. What kind of salvation do we seek?

In the books, the power of Mary Poppins lies in part in her ability to transmit order against the forces of chaos. She is a truly Great Communicator, able to converse with dogs, cows, and stars, among other figures. Most crucially, Mary Poppins commands with the power of the glance. When her face, like an ancient deity, appears “terrible” or with a “glare,” Jane, Michael, and even the grown-ups around them are helpless to do anything but comply.

I imagine her seated where Senator Amy Klobuchar sat in the senate hearing room when Judge Brett Kavanaugh began accusing her of drinking to excess. Klobuchar threw some admirable shade, but I …read more


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