Frances Hodgson Burnett's book 'A Little Princess' is a lovely read that warms the heart, and it is hard not to be touched. Or relate to Sara's trials and how she deals with them throughout the book.
Of the four versions now seen of 'A Little Princess', the best by quite some way as an adaptation and on its own merits is the 1987 series. The Shirley Temple and Alfonso Cuaron films to me were also wonderful, but are better judged as stand-alones and as films on their own terms rather than straight up adaptations. This animated version from Blye Migicovsky is the fourth adaptation of 'A Little Princess' viewed, and sadly it fares the weakest, underwhelming as an adaptation and pretty lacking as a standalone as well.
There are plus points. Found Sara to be a very likable character, dignified, resourceful and resilient and one identifies with her every step of the way in her battling her many obstacles. Likewise with Becky. The music is pleasantly orchestrated and suitably energised while allowing some pathos.
Some vibrant colours here and there and the voice acting for Sara and Becky is emotive. A couple of parts moved me like when Sara's life changes forever and the ending.
However, parts are too closely indebted to the Cuaron film, like with Becky and Captain Crewe being alive after all at the end rather than having more from the book. Not a purist at all, just had to point this out. The animation is not great on the most part, most of the colours are flat and the drawing and character designs are rushed-looking and scrappy, highly suggesting minimal budget and tight time constraints.
Dialogue is pretty stilted and rarely sounds natural, and while there is the odd moving moment there is a general lack of heart and care with the adaptation feeling far too short and the storytelling feeling rushed. Much more could have been done with Sara's imagination too. The voice acting mostly is a mix of overdone (Miss Minchin) or underplayed (Captain Crewe).
Overall, not awful but disappointing and doesn't rise above okay. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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