Living in India, Mary Lennox (Kate Maberly), a young, privileged girl, is left orphaned when her parents are killed in an earthquake. She is sent back to England where she goes to live on her Uncle Lord Archibald Craven's (John Lynch's) estate. It is a fairly isolated existence and she has to find things to keep herself occupied. She finds sickly young Colin Craven (Heydon Prowse), and a secret garden.Written by
The tapestries in Mary's (Kate Maberly's) room comprise a cycle known as "The Hunt for the Unicorn". In this cycle, the unicorn is lured from the wild and into a new life by a young virgin, foreshadowing Mary's role in the story. See more »
The scene after the credits shows a key being turned in a lock and a door being pushed open as if it's in the garden. This opens to the left while that into the garden opens to the right. See more »
Has the rare quality of understanding and enhancing its source
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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