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The Secret Garden
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Secret Garden More at IMDbPro »

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66 out of 82 people found the following review useful:

An utter delight

10/10
Author: Chessack from USA
7 July 2001

This movie is an utter delight to watch. I have probably seen it a dozen times, and I never get tired of it. Everything about it is perfect: it's well-directed, well-acted, beautifully filmed, has great music, and the script and story are wonderful.

Agneiszka Holland does an outstanding job directing this film. Each character is separate and unique; each one has little personality quirks that makes it seem real. Just about every scene in the movie includes children, animals, or both -- which must have been a nightmare to coordinate. Ms. Holland pulls it off without a hitch. Everything melds perfectly, and we are transported to a distant place and time, and fall in love with real, human characters.

The primary three characters in this story -- Mary Lennox, Colin Craven, and Dickon -- are all children, played by actors who are around 10 years old. Ordinarily having one child in a movie is difficult enough, but again, somehow they pull it off. All three kids -- especially Kate Maberly -- do a fine job of acting, and they are quite credible. Kate is simply divine as Mary Lennox, and Heydon Prowse was a good counter-point to her as Colin.

The story is touching and charming, and I think you'd have to be almost inhuman not to have a tear in your eye by the end of it. I absolutely fell in love with these children, and came to care very much about their characters. The "secret garden" really does seem to be a magical place (and I will say no more about it, since otherwise that would spoil things), and at the end I found myself wishing I could go and visit it first-hand. The accompanying music is wonderful -- I find myself humming it for days and days after watching it.

In short, everything comes together to make this film a masterpiece. It is easily one of the 10 or 12 best movies ever made, perhaps *the* best movie ever made. I love it so much that I went out and bought the DVD of it, even though I'd seen it 8 or 10 times already. If you have not seen it I give it my highest possible recommendation. My score: 10/10.

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45 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

Mesmerizing, beautifully acted family film

9/10
Author: Tommy-92 from baltimore, maryland
27 August 1999

While I have called The Secret Garden a family film, that doesn't mean it's just for children. It is a film for all ages, and sure to be enjoyed by all of them, too. A vivid and affecting film, it's got many things going for it: mesmerizing cinemetography and time-lapse photography, a good music score and script, breathtaking sets, wonderful direction, great acting, even gorgeous flowers! Agneiska Holland does a great job at bringing out all the subtle little points and details in the story and great performances from her young cast, particularly from Kate Maberly as Mary. Heydon Prowse is good, too, as Colin, and so is Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock, the frusterated, overprotective housekeeper who seems to be mean, but really is only doing what she thinks best. One of the few films I've seen that I can call perfect with conviction; definitely should be seen and appreciated.

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35 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Just as beautiful as the novel

Author: soda_pop41 from California, U.S.A
25 March 2000

This movie is one of my all-time favorite movies. I saw this movie about 5 times. I saw it with my friend on video tape when we were very young. Everything was beautiful - The cast, director's wonderful skills, music and the sight of a pretty garden. The girl who played Mary Lennox pulled out her best performance in this movie, Maggie Smith was as great as ever, the boy who played Collin was the most shining actor in the movie, and Martha was so kind and lovable character. Holland might be one of the most talented directors in the world, I give high points to the art in this movie and the beautiful music which I have listened to until the list of credits ended was so appealing to me. Give 10 out of 10.

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31 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely marvelous!

Author: Rio-7 from Washington
19 December 1999

This version of TSG is probably the best ever made. The film is so lovingly directed by Holland, I've been told that this story was one of her favorites growing up.

Heading a wonderful all-star cast is Kate Maberly as Mary Lennox. Maberly carried her character beautifully, she didn't appear to be acting as much as actually getting into character. Her attitude and personality changed as things got better in life. Maggie Smith, one of my personal favorite actressess, is wonderful as Mrs. Medlock. Others like John Lynch and Andrew Knott add more magic to the production.

Hayden Prowse was wonderful as Colin Craven. Surprisingly enough, this is the only movie he's ever been in. I certainly wish he acted more often for he has good talent.

8 out of 10

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26 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Has the rare quality of understanding and enhancing its source

9/10
Author: kingtrio9 from Kansas
16 January 2006

The Secret Garden is a rare treat where in the screenwriter and director actually understand their source, The Secret Garden by Frances Hogsden Burnett, and make a translation to the screen that not only captures the essence of the book but enhances the story as well. Too often directors spoil the story with their own self-interested spin (Little Big Man and Chocolat come immediately to mind)but here is a jewel that leaves the viewer saying "That was as good as the book." A genuine triumph.

The cast is outstanding, the children in particular, Kate Maberly as Mary Lennox above all. Even to the most minor extra everyone brings a smooth and compelling reality to the story.

However, the real star is director Agnieszka Holland. Against a challenging climate ( a rainy location) she manages to create a movie with a touching commentary on how children can literally change the world. Her insightful grasp of the themes of isolation, growth and rejuvenation, the need for a balance between nurture and allowable risk are all managed through the controlling metaphor of a garden. The artful rendering of these literary themes are what many directors apparently find most challenging ( I'm looking at you Arthur Penn)and generally blissfully ignore them compensating by glib insertions, extra action or clumsy sentiment. Not so here.

Not only is her focus exemplary but the photography is amazing. The interplay of light and dark, the time elapse photos of clouds rolling and flowers emerging all set to beautiful music captivate the viewer. The rainy weather was not shunned but used to fullest effect. I can only imagine the discipline it must have taken to wait for the sun to peep out from the clouds and then roll film hoping that the cast can pull off the shot before the light changed and a second take became a long wait. Fortunately all are up to the task and the film, the final scene in particular, results in a brilliant piece of motion picture art.

The 1993 version of The Secret Garden is a must for every family film collection, one the parents and kids can enjoy for its sophistication or simply for the great way in which this timeless classic is retold.

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30 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Like a beautiful dream...

Author: Eve Worth from San Anselmo, California
2 February 2000

Right from the beginning, you sympathize with this neglected yet spoiled little girl. Normally I adore Maggie Smith, but here the director is so astute, Maggie becomes Medlock and makes your blood boil with her officiousness and her thin-lipped inability to see or feel for the children. Luckily they all fend for themselves and create a world both unbelievable and wholly needed in our dry and hurried lives. It is for films like these that I go to the theater. It is because of stories like these that my sleep is peopled with gorgeous landscapes and interesting remarks.

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28 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Possibly the best family film ever....

10/10
Author: Estella from Somerset, England
11 August 2002

I first saw The Secret Garden over the Christmas period a few years ago, but didn't really see it for the beautiful film it is untill a viewing or so later. I have it on video, and watch it whenever I need cheering up. It is one of those rare films that I can really say is flawless. The cast are superb. The three children particulerly standing out. The scenery is breathtaking, and the score beautiful. It makes you feel that wonderful things can happen in life, and that you can make them happen. In a time when more and more films are relying on special effects rather then a good script and a decent storyline, this is one that film makers everywhere should take note of. A rare little gem of a film that should put a smile on the face of even the most cynical movie goer.

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26 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

virtually perfect

10/10
Author: thomasgulch from United States
6 December 2003

This is one of those rare films that you recognize as a classic as you are watching it. This movie is virtually perfect in almost every way, and I doubt if it will soon be displaced as the definitive version. One aspect of this film which I loved was Andrew Knott as Dickon, who ultimately sublimated his love for Mary to help Colin in the grand tradition of the English Hero - the common man. As in the Lord of the Rings, it is not a Jedi Knight, or a superman or muscleman or gun-slinging cowboy who is the hero, it is one of the common folks who rises to the occasion when greatness is demanded by the times and situation. As did Sam Gamgee, the Hero of the LOTR, so does Dickon stand out as an almost mythical personification of love and sacrifice for the good of others with no thought of recompense. This is what I love about classic English novels, how the average guy can change the world, if he loves it enough. Wonderful stuff.

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32 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

My Most Precious Movie Choice

10/10
Author: Snapper from Indianaplis, Indiana
27 August 2004

Once in a while something excellent comes along that adds to one's life in unexpected ways.

As a single father of two children, boy and girl, I look far and wide for movies that will allow me to provide good, wholesome family time...without the fear of foul language issuing forth, foul gestures, or all-too-typical South Central L.A. ghetto demeanor being exhibited by punkish personalities. And unfortunately too many Hollywood child actors are nowadays forced to lower their personal ethics for inappropriate movie roles in our never ending averaging-down of America.

The Secret Garden dismisses the need to add token actors of every type (a.k.a. Disney's last unbelievable rendering of Annie - TV 1999), race and sexual dysfunction to it's cast. Movies once were special beautiful places where the best actors were chosen for the part, and where viewers could easily lose themselves and for a short time become something in their mind's eye that was wonderful and magical. This is such a film. It's cast is well chosen for the story, not for current day hypocrisy. The Secret Garden allows viewers to immerse in a world larger than themselves ease and without having to keep saying...now why is THAT person in the movie...or why does THAT person have to keep making obscene gestures or engage in a constant flow of obscene sexual double-entendres?

This movie is pure of heart. It is one of one of Hollywood's finest creations.

Kate Mayberly as Mary Lennox is convincing. Her entry into the film is as a 10 year old girl who is catered hand and foot, literally, bathed and dressed by Indian nannies, then ignored by her parents. She grew to feel pampered, unloved and unwanted, and without the training to even dress herself. This is a sobering cameo to any parent, of how not to 'raise' a child.

The Secret Garden has been re-made many times, in books, in the theatre, in movies...and several reasons for the sudden death of Mary's parents are provided. The manner of their death is utterly unimportant, for it is the rest of the movie in which the magic of love and acceptance blossoms, and the viewer's anticipation grows as surely as does Mary's own heart and personal demeanor, and as a perfect reflection of the new growth of her formerly abandoned and neglected aunt's garden.

Kate Mayberly is beautiful. She is an exceptionally talented young actress.

My family has enjoyed shedding a few tears along with her character, Mary Lennox during the many times we've viewed The Secret Garden, and we have learned a bit more about the value of caring...and about the power of love.

To anyone considering purchasing The Secret Garden as a family film, do it. There are no downsides here, no parts where a parent has to cover his child's eyes or ears.

The Secret Garden is the perfect family film.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful and a classic

9/10
Author: Jessica Carvalho from Brazil
29 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Secret Garden' is a classic to watch anytime you want. The atmosphere in this movie is perfectly portrayed as being sinister and dark and I remember being 8 watching this movie and feeling the oppressive feeling of Lord Craven's mansion. Mary Lennox is a 10 years old English girl who was raised in India. She didn't like to live in India, but the thing she hated the most was the fact that her parents were selfish and never cared about her. One day, an Earthquake in India makes a big devastation and many kids stay orphan,including our lead character Mary Lennox. She is sent to England, to live in her uncle's mansion,since he is now her legal guardian. Mary, which is a cold,bitter,annoying girl who hates to be touched and with lots of angry inside her, meets Martha, a cool girl and servant who works in the mansion and treats Mary very nice( the opposite of Mrs. Medlock,the governess) and her brother Dickon, a sweet boy who makes friendship with the animals. One day,Mary discovers in her aunt's room a key. But it's not an ordinary key, is the key from the secret garden, a garden who once was the place where her aunt always loved to stay and that now is locked since she died. Mary ask Dickons to help her to restore the garden,but they both make it a secret. In the meanwhile, Mary meets her cousin Colin, a sick and spoiled boy who stayed all his life in bed, since everybody always believed he would die very young. It's beautiful to see the changes of Colin and Mary: He learns to be more confident and less pessimist, changing the paranoia of being all the time confined in his bedroom because of 'spores', to go to the garden and try to walk again. And Mary, who once was so bitter, learn how to be a kid and to smile.

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