Rated: G Reviewed by: Frank Release date: August 13, 1993 Released by: Warner Brothers
Every child has a secret place, some are real and some are in the mind. In The Secret Garden, author Frances Hodgson Burnett reached into both worlds. The book, which was published in 1911, remains a popular children's book today. Director Agnieszka Holland (Europa, Europa) brings a new vision of the classic tale to the screen.
Mary Lennox (Kate Maberly) loses her inattentive parents during an earthquake in India. She is sent to live with her uncle, Lord Craven (John Lynch) in an old gothic castle on the windswept moors in England. She finds Craven brooding over the death of his wife, and his son Colin (Heydon Prowse) in bed with a mysterious illness which prevents him from walking and leaves him short of breath. Mary arrives filled with anger. She is spoiled, selfish and somewhat wild. Mostly she is lovely in the dark old castle. Quickly she disobeys Mrs. Medlock (Maggie Smith) and begins to explore the old house through hidden passageways. She discovers Colin who constantly cries and screams at Medlock, more important, she discovers a key in her former aunt's bedroom.
On the outside she is lead by a small bird to a secret inner garden which has been closed and placed off limits to everyone by Lord Craven because his wife died after a fall from the swing in the garden. The garden is dead and in need of attention when Mary first finds it. The garden becomes a metaphor for the rehabilitation of Colin and the mending of Mary's anger-filled heart.
Director Holland focuses on the garden, filled with roses, cornflowers and wild foxglove; butterflies, baby goats and a knowledgeable robin. It is a warm, private place for the children to play in where no adults can reach. It is also very much a contrast with the dark castle they live in. For the children, the resolution is heart warming and filled with physical and emotional beauty.
There are a few differences from the original book and film, but the magic remains. This is a great classic and very well remade.
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