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The Opening Sequence Of Mary Poppins Film Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1201 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The opening sequence of Mary Poppins shows a backdrop of the city of London. Credits scroll by as the camera pans from right to left on the backdrop until it zooms in on Mary Poppins, (Julie Andrews), sitting on a cloud. A medley of songs: “Feed the Birds”, “A Spoonful of Sugar”, and “Chim, Chim, Cher-ee” play in the background. Finally, the camera pans down to a park where Bert, (Dick Van Dyke) sings and plays a one-man-band to a crowd of onlookers. He begs a tip from an affluent audience and then leads the viewer to Cherry Tree Lane. This introduces the story, characters, and location of the film. Bert tells of a changing wind, which suggests that Mary Poppins is arriving. Using the same backdrop of London at the beginning and the end brings the movie full-circle when the wind changes again and Mary returns to the clouds. At the end of the movie, Mary leaves while the Banks family flies kites together. Bert says goodbye to Mary on her way back to the clouds over London. The song, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” plays as credits roll past.

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The movie’s theme is that only a “tuppence” of change can make a difference. Mary Poppins brings that change when she teaches the Banks family that little things like a “tuppence” for feeding birds, making chores fun when the children clean their rooms, and going for imaginary outings in the park can make a difference in the their lives. The opening scene sets up this theme when Bert expects a tip from his well-dressed audience. Some give generously to help him, but others don’t give anything at all.

Did you find the aforementioned film to be satisfying and/or entertaining? Did it make an impact that will be lasting? Will you or will you not recommend it to others? Why?

Mary Poppins is an entertaining children’s movie, although I don’t care for other musicals. It reiterates how I feel about doing small things that make a difference to help others. I recommend this movie to parents of young children because I think it would appeal to a young audience. It has great music like “A Spoonful of Sugar”, animated scenes of penguin waiters, and colorful carousel ponies that children would like.

Isolate a five-to-ten minute continuous stretch of the required film from Lesson 4 or Lesson 5. As an exercise, turn off the sound and watch for every cut in a scene(s). Briefly describe a number of editing cuts you see. Be explicit about what film stretch you observed and what editing cuts are evidenced. Is the cutting conspicuous or inconspicuous, rapid or slow, smooth or jarring? What is the point of the cutting in each scene(s)? To clarify? Lyricize? Create suspense? Explore an emotion or idea in depth? Explain. Describe how the action is pictured in these cuts.

In scene 13, Mary and the children visit Uncle Albert. They walk down an alley to a building. The camera cuts to a low angle shot of Mary at the door. After Bert opens the door for them to come inside, the scene cuts to a shot inside Uncle Albert’s home. A medium shot shows Bert, Mary, and the children (Mat Garber, Karen Dotrice) standing by a stairway. The camera pans and follows them through another doorway. The scene cuts to another room they all go in. The camera pans to an establishing long shot of everyone in the room including Uncle Albert (Ed Wynn) who sits in the air near the ceiling. The next cut is a high angle shot from Uncle Albert’s point of view looking down to Mary, Bert, and the children. It cuts to a close-up of Uncle Albert laughing and gesturing with his hands. Then a cut to a high angle reaction shot of the children’s faces as they see Uncle Albert. Several reaction shots, low or high angle shots, and close-ups cut back and forth from Uncle Albert laughing and tumbling in the air, to the children laughing, to Bert trying to keep from laughing, and Mary admonishing them. A cut to a long shot for reestablishing everyone’s place in the room keeps viewers focused. Finally, all four characters join Uncle Albert in the air for tea.

The conspicuous and classical cuts jump back and forth quickly, but they are smooth and give emotional details of the facial expressions of the characters and physical details of where everyone is in the room. For instance, one can see that Mary disapproves when she rolls her eyes, glares down at the children, or looks crossly at Bert in several two shot cuts. In other cuts the camera shows disorienting shots of Uncle Albert near the ceiling, or follows him as he tumbles around.

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Using the required film viewed from Lesson 2, 4, or 5, concentrate on sound effects in one scene with quite a bit of movement. Describe the different sounds/noises in the scene and how they are used. Watch this one scene again without sound. How do sound effects contribute to the impact of the scene? As with #3, be explicit about what scene you observed for sounds and movement.

In the “Step in Time” dance number of scene 19, chimney sweeps dance on rooftops. Dancers keep time with the rhythmic music, but no tapping feet are heard. The music seems to tap the beat for them. When the song’s lyrics say, “act like a birdie,” a shrill whistle mimics a bird’s sound. When Admiral Boom (Reginald Owen) fires on the dancers, the audience hears hissing, pops, and booms of rockets soaring through the air with whizzing sounds. Without sound, the chimney sweeps appear to be marching to war. This might be confusing when Admiral Boom fires rockets across the sky, but the cheerful vocals and the beat of the music soften the scene so the viewer is entertained instead of misinterpreting it as a war scene or being bored by its length.

Using the required film viewed from Lesson 2, 4, or 5, describe how music is employed. What type of musical score does the film feature-orchestral music, jazz music, ballroom music, vocals, etc.? What types of musical instruments are heard? List several instruments. Is music used to underline speech or is it employed only for action or dance scenes? What precise songs, tunes, or vocal performances are prominent?

The music in Mary Poppins sets the tempo of the movie and allows characters to sing what is happening instead of using boring dialogue. For instance, Mrs. Banks (Glynnis Johns) sings about her role in helping Women’s Votes, and Mr. Banks (David Tomlinson) sings about keeping his home on schedule. The film uses vocals and orchestra music throughout the movie. Violins, cellos, drums, flutes, trombones, harps, cymbals, and tubas can be heard in the orchestra. The movie depends on vocals and music to underline speech and tell its story; however the chimneysweep “Step in Time” sequence uses the music for action and dance. Other favorite songs of the movie are “A Spoonful of Sugar”, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, and “Chim, Chim, Cher-ee”. Now a Disney classic, Mary Poppins is a favorite of children and adults.


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