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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


The Secret Garden
Directed by Agnieszka Holland
Warner Home Video 08/93 DVD/VHS Feature Film

In The Secret Garden, ten-year-old Mary Lennox survives an earthquake in India which kills her parents. She is sent to live with her uncle, Lord Craven, a reclusive hunchback who resides in gloomy Misselthwaite Manor on the Yorkshire moors. The stern housekeeper immediately dislikes this spoiled and sour girl and makes it clear that she's too busy to look after her.

Sad and lonely, Mary makes a discovery which will change her life. She finds a secret garden and with the help of Dickon, a local lad who has a way with plants and animals, sets out to bring the abandoned plot of land back to life. Mary also comes upon her invalid cousin Colin who is sequestered away in a dark room in the manor. He's convinced he's a hunchback and will suffer an early death. Mary decides to show him the secret garden and to escort him out of his self-created hell.

This elegant and beautifully photographed screen version of Frances Hodgson Burnett's 1911 children's classic is directed by Agnieszka Holland. In two other films, this Polish-born director has dealt with the mysterious world of childhood with its alternating currents of wonder and terror. The Secret Garden is a perfect vehicle for her talents.

Kate Maberly is just right as Mary, a sour young girl whose soul blooms as she nurtures the garden. And Heydon Prowse is affecting as Colin, the sickly prince whose physical maladies vanish once his mind and spirit are renewed. The Secret Garden is an earth-cherishing film about the restorative powers of nature, friendship, and nurturing.


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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