Back to the Secret Garden (2001) Poster

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Martha the Meanie, Shades of Mrs. Medlock
polexia4 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a sequel though not one most dreadful. It was better than I expected, but I expected garbage, so that's not saying too much. The story is basically this: It's 1946 and Lady Mary goes to America to find a little girl to send back to Misselthwaite which has become a home for orphans, inexplicably. The little girl Lizzie conveniently loves working in gardens and sets about finding out why the garden is inexplicably dying. Mary doesn't return to America with Lizzie, inexplicably. We never find out where Archie Craven is or if he'd dead. And is Will Weatherstaff Ben's son or what? I'm an avid fan of The Secret Garden and I own 4 movie versions of it and have seen the Brodway show, not to mention I own a couple of copies of the novel (and the abysmal "sequel" by Susan Moody). That said, there are a few good things about this film: the lead actress Camilla Belle plays her part with sincerity and Florence Hoath (from Fairy Tale) does a great job as her friend at the "school". I quite enjoyed all of the (too few) scenes with a grown Mary Lennox (now Mary Craven, having married her first cousin, Colin. I doubt this would have happened in the early 1900's -- it was already 1911 when the children met. They must have been at least 16 or 17 before marrying which puts them at 1917 or so and during WW1. I'm just not buying it!) The main problem is with Martha Sowerby. She has utterly, completely and mind bogglingly inexplicably lost her Yorkshire accent! I despise how Joan Plowright plays the character (so much like she plays ALL of her characters). Martha could not have grown into that woman! It's like Mary Lennox only backwards. The film is set in 1946, Mary should be about 45. Martha looks at least 60. That means when Mary was 10, Martha was 25. Not buying that, either. The writer killed off Dickon in the war (isn't that convenient?). We see Colin only fleetingly. The show focuses much too much on Martha, who is so unlike the Martha we know from the books that we wonder if this impostor chopped her up and buried her in the garden and that's why it's dying! There's also the just-add-venom antagonist in the form of a Harry Potter clone with a superiority complex. And what's with the magical doors -- one minute it's there and the next it's not and there a new inexplicable "rule" that one needs the key to find the door or something. I might also mention the anachronisms. At one point Lizzie yells to a taunting meanie, "Fine! Be that way!" Did they say that in 1946? It's not a bad film for those who don't know and love The Secret Garden, but for really big fans, I think it's just another disappointment. I'm still waiting for a proper sequel in which Mary marries Dickon. Everyone knows she loves Dickon, not Colin!
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Is it as good as the original? No. Is it worth watching? Yes
TheLittleSongbird31 August 2011
I adore The Secret Garden, it is one of my favourite movies ever. Back to the Secret Garden is not as good, but much better than I thought it would be, considering I was expecting an atrocity in all honesty. True, some of the dialogue is trite, some of the characters are underused(Colin for instance) and while Joan Plowright plays older Martha very well with a sweet sincerity I wasn't entirely convinced by how Martha was written some of it was on the contradictory side. That said, it is beautifully filmed, the soundtrack is soothing and the story is interesting with cute scenarios. The cast are excellent, particularly Florence Hoath and Camilla Belle, but the performances of David Warner, George Baker and Cherie Lunghi aren't to be disputed either. All in all, not as good as the original but worth watching. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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Follow "this" path for further inspiration
cjnb17 April 2002
Michael Tuchner's follow-up to The Secret Garden is a far less inspired outing than it's 1993 predecessor, but never the less still passes muster thanks to some cutesy performances and even cuter scenarios, courtesy cast and filmmaker. As with most low-key sequels, Back to the Secret Garden follows the path of a new bunch of characters, all, of course, experiencing the joy of the titular garden. Lizzie, orphaned American lass, finds herself laying her bed in the same manor where the events of the first film occurred. Miss Sowerby (Joan Plowright), is the be all and end all of the said garden, but under her watchful eye, Lizzie discovers the said place, a place of faith, courage and determination. Back to The Secret Garden, like the first film, has some lovely messages in there for the littlies. While at the same time, giving Mum's a break from that well worn VHS of the original to put something else in the machine for a while. Follow this path for further inspiration.
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An excellent film for children... Young and old.
smfurgerson27 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I love the positive aspects of this film. It was a pleasure to see that Hallmark had taken a chance at moving on from the original... and doing a wonderful job.

This film gives both young and old the idea of continuity. The restoration of the garden by yet another child's faith is something to be respected.

One could see some of the similarities of Lizzie to Dickon from the very first glimpse of the child... and like Mary before her, Lizzie had to 'steal' the garden before she was able to do good with it.

Like the first one, it will remain on my favorite 'watch list' for a long time to come.
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Very good, not quite a classic
vchimpanzee18 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In 1946, after her husband becomes British ambassador to the United States, Lady Mary Craven must leave the Misslethwaite orphanage in England. She puts Martha in charge, although Martha doesn't feel quite ready. Part of Martha's duty will be to keep the key that opens the door to the secret garden Martha's late husband started. The garden is not in the best of shape, and Martha cannot see how Mary found the door when Mary opens it for her.

When Mary leaves, she announces that Penelope will be able to go the United States to have an operation she can only get there, and that an orphan from the United States will be chosen to take Penelope's place while she is gone.

Once in the United States, Mary visits an orphanage outside Washington, D.C. and finds several children interested in going to England. But Mary chooses Lizzie, a loner who loves taking care of the garden.

After Martha is on her own, she looks and looks and can only see ivy covering the stone wall. So she has an opening made for a new door.

Lizzie arrives at Misslethwaite and immediately learns to break the rules. She loves the secret garden and sneaks in, and she discovers that door Martha can't find from the outside. The animals in the garden love Lizzie and gather around her. Martha soon realizes Lizzie was meant to care for the garden and puts her in charge of the key.

There is the usual boy-girl romance and love-triangle story one might expect here, and more breaking of rules, with appropriate consequences.

The big question: will Lizzie be able to make the garden what it once was?

I probably watched a movie called "The Secret Garden" but don't have any memory of it. Whether it was one of the great classics I can't say, but that's what I recall. This sequel wouldn't rank that high, but it is still very good. and if I can't remember the original, I have no problems with anything that might not be consistent with that movie.

Joan Plowright gives her usual wonderful performance. There are many other very good performances here. Camilla Belle starts off slow but eventually shows talent matching that of the others.

This is a movie kids can watch, but it has plenty of adult content (the good kind, meaning intelligent writing) which their parents can enjoy too. In fact, one doesn't even need to have kids to watch this.

I am curious as to whether some of the expressions used by the kids were actually in people's vocabularies back in 1946. Nevertheless, today's kids will like hearing them.

It's a good family film.
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Not a bad movie but no great sequel either
mlwitvliet16 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The secret garden is an amazing story at itself. So the idea of making a sequel is not a bad one.

This sequel has one big problem however; They first should have sad down an watch the original movie and than make a story line for this sequel.

"the secret garden" is a great story that leaves enough leads to follow and make a great sequel. So why the vanishing door and the key which is thrown in the lake but suddenly sticks in the door? Is it a sequel on the secret garden or is it a sequel on Harry Potter? This really ruined it for me Conclusion: the story line is not bad an the filming and atmosphere of the movie is excellent and if they would have followed the original movie it would have received much better critics from me. As it is: 6 out of 10.
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An excellent re-visit to a classic movie
Raymond Baxter12 December 2010
This is the third time over a few years that I have seen this film, it is always hard to follow an excellent film such as the original. Back to the Secret Garden does an excellent 'job' in my opinion. The storyline flows well.

I have the original DVD of the original film, but for the moment have the sequel above as a TV recording. It is my intention, as with the Railway Children, and other films in our collection to have the original DVD 'set' to add to our growing collection of classic films.

If you have not seen this sequel for fear of it not being as good as the original, then rest assured, if you liked the original, you'll like this version too.
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