Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Flashback Sequence

My family goes back to school today. I have a few more days of vacation. I’m trying to get back in my normal, post-vacation sleep cycle, and it’s not pretty.

Yesterday I took my daughter to see “Mary Poppins Returns” at the Regal Cinema on Snowden. Actually, she went with me because I really wanted to go. We very nearly didn’t make it at all because my car did that automatic pilot thing and I found myself looking for a parking space near the AMC at the Mall. That’s not a sign of old age creeping up on me, is it?

Thanks to the length of trailers before the actual feature, we made it in plenty of time. 

This is not a review of the film, although I certainly have opinions. At some point yesterday I realized that I had seen the original Mary Poppins film on New Year’s Day, 1965. It was one of the first movies I saw, or that I remember seeing, anyway. I vividly remember getting ready with my family to go to the movie theatre. It was a big deal. A special event. I feel like we may have even dressed up a bit, but I could be wrong on that. We surely wore wool coats that buttoned up the front.

I remember my older sister, then in junior high school, explaining to me what a “musical” was. 

“It’s just like a regular play, but when the characters get to an important part of the story, they sing.” 

I remember the thrill of coming home from school one day to find that my mother had purchased the record album from the movie. Oh, the joy of peeling off the cellophane and putting in on my dad’s hifi stereo system. We played that record over and over. It eventually warped and we still played it.

My sister bought the easy piano/vocal collection and we all stood around the piano and sang our way through every tune. I made my vocal debut that summer at day camp singing “It’s a Jolly Holiday” while sitting on the edge of the stage. My partner froze up and sat there, silent. I just kept on going because by then I had it memorized.

It’s clear that “Mary Poppins” made a big impression on me. And it was largely because of the music. Of course, in those days selling the record album and the sheet music was pretty much the total of merchandizing opportunities for a movie. This was well before one could buy t-shirts and dolls and board games and backpacks and own the actual movie itself within six months.

The new film is infused with many loving touches and deliberate references to the first. Enough so that someone like me walked away flooded with memories of being a little girl in 1965, thrilled with her first adventure of going “to the movies”. 

I’m not sure how the film will land with viewers who didn’t grow up with the original. For this viewer it didn’t take much to evoke that sense of Proustian memory which fills one with the recalled sweetness of days gone by.

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