Monday, 15 October 2012

The Secret Garden (1993) - ★★★★½

Director: Agnieszka Holland
Writers: Frances Hodgson Burnett (Novel), Caroline Thompson (Screenplay)
Stars: Kate Maberly, Heydon Prowse, Andrew Knott, Maggie Smith, Laura Crossley, John Lynch.

The Secret Garden in my opinion is one of the best childrens movies of all time. One of the most exciting things about being a child is discovering new and unfamiliar places and people, which this film shows beautifully. I have to say that I've loved this film since I was a child, and although it strays quite a bit from the book, the adaptation is extremely well done.

Mary Lennox (Kate Maberly) is a young girl that was brought up in India by a neglectful mother that paid no attention to her, and a father that was never home. She grew up resentful, bitter and hardly ever smiled. She even learned to stop crying. After an accident kills her parents, she is sent to England to live with her uncle, Lord Archibald Craven (John Lynch), a man caught in despair over the death of his wife (her aunt).

They live in a gloriously stunning old mansion called Misselthwaite, where the unkind and strict Mrs. Medlock (Maggie Smith) runs the household. After exploring the grounds of Misselthwaite, Mary discovers a door hidden behind a hedge that leads to a secret garden filled with unbloomed plants, statues and everything nice that would appeal to a child. It is here that she makes friends with a young boy named Dickin (Andrew Knott), who helps her plant new flowers and fix the garden up to make it perfect.

Throughout the film you hear a childs wailing echo through the mansions halls, which Mary later finds out is her sickly cousin Colin, a bedbound boy who has been told all his life that he has a lump on his back and a sickness that will surely kill him before he becomes an adult. Mary befriends Colin and helps him get better by showing him that he's not sick and opening up the world to him through telling stories and showing him the garden.

This is a really magical movie. Set around the moors, the cinematography in this film leaves me with a wide grin for it is truly beautiful to see. What helps is the music that accompanies these scenes, which I believe is one of the best movie themes there is. Maberly was amazing as Mary, somehow acting so adult when she is only a child actor. I loved her, I hated her, but the main thing is that she made me feel things everytime she was on the screen.

The same goes for Prowse, who made Colin annoying, entertaining and ignorant to the world around him. Maggie Smith was incredible as Mrs. Medlock. You hated her with such a passion because of how mean she was to Mary, but also came to understand later in the film that she was under a lot of pressure to help Colin get better. My favorite person in the whole movie was a character named Martha (Laura Crossley). She was hilarious and cute as the handmaiden to Mary, really providing so much entertainment and charm to the film.

The story is simple but effective, keeping me interested all the way through. There is little I can fault with this film, but so much to praise! If you have kids, I highly suggest you let them watch The Secret Garden. It's really magical for young people. I should know, I was just a child when I first saw it.

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