Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Not much to report and Mary Poppins

This week has been amazingly lazy and unproductive.

Although we were miles apart last night, apparently both Jason and I watched the Disney classic "Mary Poppins" on ABC Family.

I was struck by the similarities in reference to magic that one could see in "Mary Poppins" (which has some odd bits surely intended for the adults), and the portrayal of magic in much of Neil Gaiman's work. Specifically in his work that includes his anthropomorphization of Death. Even more telling was Gaiman's introduction of Death in the cult Sandman comics, wherein Death immediately quotes "Mary Poppins", extoling the virtues of the movie to her brother, Dream.

Gaiman's definition of magic, as a realm just touching our world, but one which we rarely notice, was prevalent in his Sandman series, as well as his limited series "Books of Magic", and the two "Death" limited series. Is Mad Hettie the pigeon woman? Is it that unlikely that a character line Burt or Mary Poppins, or Uncle Albert might have appeared somewhere in the Sandman series?

I had not seen "Mary Poppins" in years, and may not have seen it in its entirety since my parents took me to the theater for a screening circa 1980. As a child, I think, you expect magic in movies, but I was impressed as an adult viewer at the handling of wonderment through the eyes of the Banks children. Other things seemed far more interesting, including the odd melancholy of Burt and Mary's relationship, as well as the creator's clever separation between the magic and mundane in such an acute fashion.

Nor did I note the source of Mrs. Banks' distraction as a mother was her involvement in the women's suffrage movement (which took far nastier turns in the UK than in the US). There's probably some insidious message there about the addle-headed suffragist not able to pay attention to her own children, but that's a discussion for another time.

Kids today have Harry Potter, who is a far more relatable character than the "practically perfect" Mary Poppins, and probably even more so than Michael and Jane, two perfectly behaved English children (children without video games, cell phones, or an X-TREME, in-your-face attitude). For my dollar (or tuppance), what is made even more mysterious than Hogwart's dungeons and catacombs are the odd comments made by Burt regarding the world we catch mostly only glimpses of, and a history of Mary Poppins which, properly, never reveals itself.

That's the trick of magic, though, I think. Keep them guessing how it's done, and always leave them wanting more.

Gaiman, you owe us one. But you'd hidden it in plain sight all along.

No comments: