Monday, January 31, 2011

Disney Commentary: A British Bank

One of the joys of having a little one is getting to know your Disney movies even better than you ever thought you knew them ... because now you can commit literary analysis on them or try to force your way in with logic. This is less magical, but restores sanity.

In Mary Poppins, Mr. Banks sings a short song/talk as is his wont expressing his dissatisfaction with Poppins' outings. Titled "A British Bank" it is one of Hyrum's favorites from the movie. In the midst of Banks' comparison of a household to a bank, Poppins sidetracks him into believing what he wants is for the children to accompany him to work the following day. It's a very clever piece. Poppins' lines are particularly clever, comparing bankers to "a thousand ciphers neatly in a row." Delicious.

Banks' chief complaint however is unusual. He recites the outings the children have gone on to this point, which I can do from memory by this point:

"In short I am disturbed to hear my children talk about having tea parties on the ceiling. I ask you -- having tea parties on the ceiling! Consorting with race horse persons and questionable outings of every other kind.
If they must go on outings, these outings ought to be
Fraught with purpose, yes!, and practicality.
These silly words like ...    [Supercalafragilisticexpialadocious?]
*aside* Yes, well done. You said it.
*sung* And popping through pictures
Have little use! Fulfill no basic need! ..."

Think about that complaint. He is not worried that they are living in a fantasy world and out of touch with reality. He is not worried that they are lying to him. He is not worried that they are on drugs. He is worried that having tea parties on the ceiling is not useful.

That the Banks character is one with his priorities messed up to the n-th degree few will question, but it strikes me that he is surrendering a great deal of rationality and logic. He accepts that these things actually happened. Compare this to the Poppins character in the original books who practically yells at the children when they remind her of the things they saw and did. 'No, that most certainly never happened,' she avers. 'How dare you speak such nonsense!'

On the other hand, this really says that there is some hope for this Banks fellow. If he can accept tea parties on the ceiling and riding merry-go-round horses on a race track as possible if not useful, he may yet come round.... round the bend into insanity, that is. Whither he goes.

No comments: