Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Secret Garden

directed by Agnieszka Holland (1993)
             This is one of my all time favourite films. Ever since I was a child the movie has enchanted me. It happened to be on tv the other night so I thought I would review it instead of a current movie.
            The movie is based upon the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett and it follows the plot pretty faithfully. It changes several things, but it does not detract from the original work much. The story centers itself on Mary Lennox, a sour, dispirited child, who was born and raised in India. She was mostly raised by her servants as her parents had little time or inclination towards her. Due to this she is unable to cry or really understand the concepts of love and friendship.
 Recently orphaned she is sent to live at her uncle’s home Misselthwaite Manor, where there too she is left mostly on her own. To amuse herself she is sent daily outside where she finds a locked garden and is able to get inside. Through the course of the movie she discovers another secret within her home, her bedridden cousin Colin who is similar in temperament to herself.
            The story is essentially about healing, family, and learning to love. The garden is a metaphor for the growth of the characters themselves as they progress in the narrative. The cast of this film is excellent and while oftentimes young actors can come off as stilted and unconvincing, child actors Kate Maberly, Heydon Prowse, and Andrew Knott are not only convincing but emotionally engaging in their respective roles. The supporting cast lead by Maggie Smith strengthens their portrayals by adding a depth and gravity into roles that otherwise could be very flat. Maggie Smith’s character is the most “villainous” in the film, but she brings sensitivity to the role that makes it impossible to completely hate her by the end of the film.
            To round off the excellent acting, the locations, buildings, and cinematography is all excellent.  Much care was given to each of these areas giving the film a life of its own; And as an adult watching this film, it’s hard to believe that so much effort went into a “children’s” film. This film is timeless and is one of the best movie adaptations I have ever seen. I know from experience the movie still captures young children (my nieces) and has the potential to become a children’s classic, much like the novel.
Best Random Parts of the Movie:
            The music is just fantastic that it has to be mentioned somewhere on here, Maggie Smith as the villainous Medlock, elephants as a motif for mothers, Time lapse photography for garden’s spring.
*****out of 5, a classic and a favourite that I couldn’t rate any less!
Here is a clip of the film I found on Youtube

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