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Preface to Mary Poppins

We will now consider the movie Mary Poppins (Stevenson, 1964), which premiered August 27, 1964, and imaginally looks back to the spring of 1910, around the turn of the Twentieth Century.  Through this turn of the "Kaleidoscope of Culture," we will primarily see play’s transformative power to change the status quo, although other aspects of play will also come into view.  Before we explore the movie Mary Poppins, we will turn to the heavens and see what astrological aspects were starring in the sky at those times, and then we will look metabletically at the decade of the 1960s and see how “the world was gathered,” when the movie Mary Poppins was created, since we have already seen what the world was like at one of Disney’s favorite times, the turn of the Twentieth Century, in the "Introduction to the Kaleidoscope of Culture" chapter.  After that, we will go on to explore the movie Mary Poppins itself.


Astrological Aspects in Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins (Stevenson, 1964) premiered on August 27, 1964 at Graumann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood at 8:30 pm [link to chart].  The time portrayed in Mary Poppins is the late turn of the Twentieth Century, the spring of 1910. We know it is spring because the cherry trees are in bloom on Cherry Tree Lane, which according to London’s Kew Gardens (2005, online) would be between April and May.

Rebellious 60s Retrospective

The 1960s were an amazing time—amazingly inspiring and amazingly violent.  As humanity soared to new heights, and landed a man on the moon, we also sunk to new depths, exploring the seafloor and making new discoveries there as well.  During this divided decade, youth and the counterculture battled their elders and the establishment.   The 1960s, as has no other decade, “changed the popular culture of the United States dramatically and permanently.  The decade was a wild and heady ride, sometimes agonizingly sad, on occasion simply foolish, but seldom boring.  Above all it was a time to be young"  (Rielly, 2003, p. xiii)

JFK in a speech in July 1960 said: “we stand today on the edge of a new frontier—the frontier of the 1960s, a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats” (Bowen, 1970b, p. 25).  We were indeed on the edge, the question was: would we go down in flames, and if so, could we rise from the ashes?  As Norman Mailer said of this period: “America’s need in those years was to take an existential turn, to walk into the nightmare, to face that terrible logic of history that demanded the country and its people must become extraordinary and more adventurous or else perish” (Jennings & Brewster, 1998, p. 368). With this overview of the decade in mind let us tke a closer look at the 1960s.


Sceneplay for Mary Poppins

In this section, we will go behind the scenes of Mary Poppins(Stevenson, 1964) and take a look at the history of the movie, and also take a peek into the Disney magic behind it all.  After that, we will get an archetypal overview or two of the movie and then go on to explore the ongoing themes that play throughout Mary Poppins: neoteny, liminality, the Trickster, Mary’s nonordinary magic, and laughter.  After that, we will go scene-by-scene through the movie and witness the magic of Mary Poppins for ourselves.

Liminal Lessons

Mary Poppins has shown us the power of the imagination to change our world, the need for love, compassion, and kindness.  These neotenous characteristics are sometimes cast aside, but they are what matter most.  These little things, as the movie shows, are really important.  As Bert, with his chalk pictures, and Mary, with her liminal lullaby showed us, play opens up worlds, of imagination, of art. 

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