Reviewed by: W.J. Kimble
Starring: Kate Maberly, Heydon Prowse, Andrew Knott, Maggie Smith, John Lynch / Director: Agnieszka Holland / Released by: Warner Bros.
This delightful and charming movie begins by introducing you to an emotionally crippled girl, who is orphaned in India when her parents die in an earthquake. This spoiled and lonely English child, Mary (Kate Maberly), is forced to relocate to the gloomy and forbidding estate of her uncle, Lord Craven (John Lynch), known as Misselthwaite Manor. Here Mary is treated as a discommoding creature by the head housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock (Maggie Smith, “Sister Act” and “First Wives Club”). Confined to her room, Mary discovers a hidden door which begins her journey through the mansion, via secret passages, and eventually leads her to her deceased aunts' room, where she finds a mysterious key.
During one of her ventures through the mansion, Mary comes across the room of her sickly cousin, Colin (Heydon Prowse), who is a bedfast, self-induced cripple that is convinced that he is soon to die. And the real magic of this movie begins.
Meanwhile, forced to play on her own, Mary discovers The Secret Garden and a sweet-natured country boy, (Andrew Knott, “Black Beauty”), who shares in the secret of the garden and helps her to bring it back to life. With this young lad’s help and with great determination on her part, they convince Colin to join them in The Secret Garden. And it is here that they find the emotional balm that heals all wounds. Here, Mary learns to find the emotional release that her heart has longed for. She learns to love, cry, laugh and enjoy life. It is here, too, that Colin learns to walk and discovers a new reason for living.
“The Secret Garden” will send you through a foray of human emotions. At first you will be thrust into a emotional barrage of conflicting ideas. You will learn to despise Mary’s behavior; then you will feel sorry for her. You will laugh at her antics and revel in her curiosity; you’ll be touched by her adventurous spirit and rejoice in her victories.
“The Secret Garden” is a movie that will warm your heart. It is a family film that starts out slow but builds to a sensational climax. It is one that you will want to see over and over again. Agnieszka Holland (a renowned Polish film maker and director of this film) is an avowed fan of the Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel, “The Secret Garden”. And having herself read this story over and over again, she magically brings this story to life.
“The Secret Garden” is clean and decent; a movie for the whole family. There is one scene where, in childish innocence, they are seen casting a spell, which is sent to bring back Colin’s dad who is away on a trip. Be sure to rent this video with your family, but also be sure to take the time to explain to your children why casting spells is wrong. you’ll be glad you did!