We all got on our PJ’s, bundled our duvets downstairs and settled in to watch The Secret Garden. Despite being a classic I somehow missed ever reading this book or watching The Secret Garden in any form whilst I was young so this was all new to me.
We were so delighted to be sent this film from Warner Bros. to reviews on behalf of the Tots 100 film club. My son (aged 7 ) decided it looked ‘too girly’ and refused to watch it. Annalise aged 4, Daddy and I (aged 40) got comfy.
The Secret Garden would have delighted my son. it was packed with the sort of adventures he loves. It began with an earthquake led to a mysterious house on the moors, hidden rooms, secret passages, scary housekeepers, a hidden cousin and most intriguingly this mysterious garden.
For those who havent’t read the story or seen the film let me tell you the plot briefly. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s wrote this classic children’s story in 1949. This 1993 film version of the book is produced by the amazing Francis Ford Coppola and directed by acclaimed Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland. The story starts in India where neglected rich girl Mary Lennox becomes orphaned. She is sent to England to live in Misselthwaite Manor, the 100 bedroom gloomy house on the moor, home to her often absent and still grieving, uncle.
Befriended by her maid Martha, Mary is encouraged to explore the grounds of the house and she comes across the Secret Garden. She makes friends with Dickon, Martha’s brother and you see her change from a cold, spoilt girl to a warmer friendlier child as they plant and plan together in the garden.
Mary eventually finds her apparently very ill cousin hidden from her in the house and she also befirends him and encourages him to come out into the sunlight and the gardens and their she and Dickon encourage him to be get better,
It all ends well (of course) as the uncle returns home to see his son walking and the children all happy.
It is undoubtedly a film that fills your heart. It is romantic but dark in places too and quite sad. It is about renewal and rebirth of hope and love symbolised by the garden going from neglected and uncared for to love and blooming.
The children in the film, particularly Kate Maberly who plays Mary, are really excellent and believable and they are somehow very real, not ‘Disney’ like and cute but difficult, jealous, edgy, even rude on occasion.
Some bits of the film confused me slightly, in terms of how Colin’s mother died whether on the swing or childbirth was an issue bought up several times but not resolved. I also found the slight romantic attraction between such young children a little out of place.
Or have I forgotten about being 10?
On the whole with all the drama, funny bits, life changes, scary dogs, brooding uncles and hidden roons this was an absolutely delightful children’s story. I have to say the scenery was stunning as was the music and it was just gorgeous to watch the garden bloom. This was sentimental, sweet and old fashioned and I adored it for being so. we all throughly enjoyed it.
Definitely a good family film for all ages.