Sara Crewe is the pampered darling of her father, an army captain, and the Victorian London girls' school where he places her. But when her father dies, penniless, Sara becomes a skivvy in ... See full summary »
Sara Crewe is the pampered darling of her father, an army captain, and the Victorian London girls' school where he places her. But when her father dies, penniless, Sara becomes a skivvy in Miss Michin's school, befriended only by the scullery maid, Becky, her friends Ermengarde and Lottie, a little monkey, a lascar, and the mysterious man next door. Written by
Fine old story compellingly and attractively told; Where' the DVD?
I first encountered this version of A Little Princess, by far the best, on a PBS station in the Pacific Northwest. It must have been new then.
It was shown during a holiday season station fund-raiser and promoted by ghastly comments by an attractive physically woman who made the sorts of comments I would expect a rather silly grandmother to make to someone else's grandchild.
I was somewhat insulted, but when the film began settled for enchantment which was sufficiently strong to keep me around when the second installment (I think there were only two, but this was 20-odd years ago) came along next night, when I also learned that the picture would be replayed throughout the promo which allowed me to make a tape of it.
Although the script does not slavishly repeat every bit of the Burnett novel, it completely mirrors it, changing some situations and condensing in some areas. Most of the minor deviations from the plot I assumed still do were because Sara had to be shown growing up and the story had to fit within length restrictions. Amelia Shankley was superb as was her nemesis, played by Maureen Lippman. Seldom mentioned is her companion, scullery maid Becky, or many other fine characterizations.
Parts of the film are sad and, because we (viewers) have become fond of Sara, a little frightening at times. We wish, sometimes, that Sara in her times of trial would be more defiant but realize, too, that she must submit to survive and also to protect her friends.
As intended, Sara comes across this mood is set even before the situations are defined as a true heroine, when adversity befalls her. She remains compassionate toward and grateful to those who are her friends, including Melchizedek (you have to know the story) toward whom she is also a benefactor.
Shankley, the costumers and makeup artists, surmount the challenges of a growing and changing girl who eventually displays some signs of illness (scurvy perhaps?).
Sara and her story remain compelling and attractive after a lapse of more than 100 years and this filmed version remains so after 20 years, but can we not find so compelling a version of what is perhaps Francs Hodgson Burnett's finest tale childhood?
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?