mary poppins archives

Practically Perfect Concepts

By Kevin Kern, Walt Disney Archives

Mary Poppins represents a monumental work of artistry. From inception through development and production, the end result embodies a filmic experience so grand and unique that no one artistic stroke can take responsibility for the final product.

Walt Disney’s keen sense of craftsmanship and eye for quality helped him corral a history-making crew of visual artisans that would not only build upon P.L. Travers’ world of Mary Poppins, but bring it to life on the big screen through vivid imagination. Utilizing the talents of art director Carroll Clark, story artists X Atencio, Don DaGradi, and Bill Justice, luminary matte painter Peter Ellenshaw, and designer Tony Walton (to name only a few), the film represents a collage of color, tone, composition, and light that was shaped by a veritable laundry list of some of Hollywood’s brightest and most accomplished creators.

From the rooftops of London and a fanciful English countryside, to the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the world of Disney’s Mary Poppins holds a beloved place in cinema history––often imitated, but never recreated. The production art featured here helped to inspire, map, and transform Disney’s take on Travers’ tale into a pinnacle work for the studio––a beautiful and glorious amalgamation of artistic experience and output representing a veritable height of motion picture creation and innovation.

Having the chance to work with such cinematic treasures is just one of the special things about working with the Walt Disney Archives collection.