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Direct address as narrative device

by Critical Commons Manager

Robert Stevenson's Walt Disney production of Mary Poppins from 1964 uses a striking array of cinematic techniques including direct address, scenes with both live action and cell animation, optically printed visual effects and frames within frames. Many of the narrative elements themselves are also surprisingly blunt and perverse even by Disney standards. The mother's (Glynis Johns') participation in the UK's suffrage movement of the 1910s, the Admiral (Reginald Owen) firing cannon rounds at dancing chimney sweeps in diegetically excusable blackface, mistaking them for marauding "Hottentots," and the brutal characterization of the English banking industry in a period of late colonialism, all make for unexpectedly complex family viewing on both formal and ideological levels.

Direct address in Mary Poppins

Bert the chimney sweep interrupts his street performance to directly address viewers and launch the central narrative of Mary Poppins

from Mary Poppins (1964)
Creator: Robert Stevenson
Distributor: Disney
Posted by Critical Commons Manager
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