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Recapitulation Activity 1
I. We studied Reviews last year. Work with a partner and discuss the questions that follow. Then, compare your answers with those of other students in the class.
2 : Read the review of a famous film “Mary Poppins” that follows. As you
read, think whether the reviewer is meeting the aims listed in Activity 1.
Discuss with your partner.
Mary Poppins – Review by Brian Johnson
a. How many of the following aspects should a review cover?
i. Basic information about the content of what is being reviewed
ii. Reviewers personal opinion of the work.
iii. A recommendation as to whether the readers of the review would or would not enjoy the book / film / cassette / television series under review.
iv. An enjoyable piece of writing with a connection of life beyond the work under review.
Mary Poppins is a film that everyone needs to see, first as a child, then as a teenager, again as a parent--and as frequently as possible in between. It has something to offer at every stage of life, and its offerings get richer the older one gets. Of course, there is a danger that the modern teenagers may not have the patience for the film's cute veneer, but that is their loss if they do not stick around and learn something about life.
George Banks (David Tomlinson) is a banker at a prestigious London bank in 1910. His wife (Glynis Johns) is a strange blend of a vigorous extrovert and submissive housewife. His children, Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael (Matthew Garber), look up to him and want ever-so-much to love him, but George does not see it. Children are to be patted on the head and sent up to bed, educated by a nanny, and generally molded by their fathers and mothers into new fathers and mothers who will then do the same with the next generation. Such is the precision a British home requires.
When the previous nanny (Elsa Lanchester) quits in a huff, George advertises for a new one and ends up hiring the charmingly mysterious Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews). The children quickly learn something is not quite ordinary about the new nanny. After all, she literally breezed in by coasting over London using an open umbrella. She does not deign to walk up the stairs to the nursery, but slides up the banister instead. Then, not ten minutes into her new job, she pulls impossibly large objects out of her carpet bag, talks to her reflection in the mirror, and cleans up the nursery with a mere snap of her fingers.
From there Mary Poppins takes the children on an outing to the park, where they meet up with Bert (Dick Van Dyke), a jovial bloke who employs himself with whatever comes to mind (including narrating the film at a few key moments). Together, the four of them enjoy an afternoon inside one of Bert's chalk pictures, complete with animated singing animals.
It is not my job to tell the whole story here. Suffice it to say the adventures continue, right up to Jane and Michael running away from their father, whom they are sure is out to kill them. "He's bringing the army, the navy, and everything!” Michael claims. Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music) plays Mary Poppins flawlessly. I mean that. I can't find anything to quibble about. Dick Van Dyke (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) appears to be having an unrestrained blast in his role as the every-man who guides the story along.
David Tomlinson does a good job as the crusty father. Glynis Johns (While You Were Sleeping) is humorous as Mrs. Banks--one moment bravely asserting that women should get to vote, and the next repeating "Yes, dear" to her husband in meek acquiescence.
Then there are the two children, played by Matthew Garber and Karen Dotrice (The Gnome-Mobile). They are self-proclaimed adorable children, and I agree. Matthew is quite funny as Michael, especially when he is hopelessly frustrated by his inability to snap his fingers. The songs are some of the most memorable ever written for a film. Spoonful of Sugar, the award-nominated Chim Chim Cheree, and the immortal Supercalifragilistic... are among the gems of the music track.
The Sherman Brothers were brilliant in numerous films, and their compositions shine here. The film also excels in its special effects department. The Disney company has always been a major innovator in new effects, and they are used here extensively. This is not to say the effects are perfect, but the sheer joy the film exudes tends to blur over such considerations. Watching Dick Van Dyke dance with four animated penguins is a high point.
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