The character of Mary Poppins was around long before Walt Disney, Julie Andrews or Emily Blunt; so why is Disney’s version so perfect?
For many, Mary Poppins is a childhood hero. Through the character’s use of music and magic, she imparts important life lessons and repairs the hearts and minds of those around her. Mary is a character that was born from the imagination of author PL Travers, but it was Disney that perfected her and made her a character for the ages.
As the story goes, Walt Disney’s children fell in love with a book series that centered around a magical nanny named Mary Poppins. Author PL Travers was against her characters or stories in animation form, which was what Disney was known for, and turned down his offers for decades. Finally, in the early 1960s, Travers agreed to a live-action film as long as she had script approval. (Their discourse making the film has been well-documented, most recently in the movie Saving Mr. Banks; starring Emma Thompson as Travers and Tom Hanks as Disney.)
Travers was originally said to have liked the film, although later, she would denounce it publicly as often as possible. It was not her version of Mary Poppins. So how did her version differ from Disney’s? And why is Disney’s version ultimately the version that the world needed?
A Kinder, Gentler Version of Mary
The idea behind Mary is the same the books and the movie. She is stern but inspiring and teaches the children (and adults) meaningful lessons. She remembers all the wonders we knew as children and have since forgotten as adults. The group at Disney didn’t stray from the values and overall intention of the character; it’s as if they put a soft, warm, glossy glow over the character.
Travers’ version of Mary was a bit colder and a bit… well, meaner. Some could argue that changing the character was and is wrong; the character came from the mind of PL Travers and should be adapted the way Travers wanted. And, yes, the argument is not wrong, but the question is, would so many adore Mary Poppins if the film character resembled the harsh woman from the book? Probably not. Because changes were made, Mary continues to be a beloved and timeless character with all ages around the world.
Mary Poppins: Wake From Your Sleepwalking
The Disney version of Mary Poppins inspires the world to use their imagination and trying to find the fun in all of your boring, everyday tasks. The movies ask viewers to open their eyes to the wonders that happen all around us everyday. In the video below, explore why the character of Mary Poppins from Mary Poppins (starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke) and Mary Poppins Returns (starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda) are so important for both children and adults.