Title: The Secret Garden
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Original Release: 1993
Choice: Our Girl's
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Our Girl is currently reading The Secret Garden, a 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett so this choice for Family Movie Night was not much of a surprise. Holland's 1993 movie is the third and most recent film version. Mary is an English girl born into privilege in colonial India. When her neglectful parents are killed in an earthquake, she's sent to live with an aunt and uncle in Yorkshire. Upon arrival, she finds that her aunt (mom's sister) had actually died many years before. The ten-year-old Mary is, for all intents, left alone with the servants on the estate as her uncle is never home.
All told, it's a miserable set up for Mary. She doesn't help matters by being a rotten child in the beginning - spoiled, entitled, anti-social. Yet, despite her best efforts to alienate herself further, Mary makes friends who ultimately save her - first Martha, a servant girl. Next, Martha's brother Dickon becomes her guide/companion in exploring the gardens. The real surprise, however, is a cousin she didn't even know she had: the bed-ridden Colin.
The Secret Garden is a tale of yearning and redemption. The book is often categorized as fantasy, but I don't see it that way - at least, not if the movie is anything to go by. There are fantastical allusions but the magical elements aren't exactly the hocus-pocus variety.
The movie is beautifully filmed on location at Allerton Castle and Fountains Hall, both in North Yorkshire. Casting is excellent. The children are all strong and the ever-dependable Maggie Smith plays the horrible (but of course, redeemed) Mrs. Medlock.