A Little Princess
- Liesel Matthews as Sara Crewe
- Eleanor Bron as Miss Minchin
- Liam Cunningham as Captain Crewe
- Vanessa Lee Chester as Becky
- Arthur Malet as Charles Randolph
- Errol Sitahal as Ram Dass
Based on the classic children’s book, A Little Princess is a joy for both children and adults to watch. Visually stunning, evocatively scored and well performed, it shows how the imagination of one person can help them brave an unforgiving world and brighten the lives of others.
Sara Crewe is a young rich girl living in India with her captain father. She is an imaginative girl who enjoys nothing better than telling stories to others. When World War I breaks out, her father enlists for service and sends her to an exclusive American Boarding school for girls. At first she is a popular new edition to the school, but over time clashes with the viciously cruel headteacher Miss Minchin. The woman presides over the girls with a scolding eye and punishes for them make believing stories. When news is heard that Sara’s father has been killed in the trenches, she suddenly is stripped of her rich finery and banished to the attic. She is then made a slave by Minchin, who tries to break the young girls free-spirited demeanor. Along the way Sara maintains her believe in magic and makes friends with the mistreated African-American slave Becky. Throughout her ordeal, the expressive Sara brings joy to others and takes on the evil Minchin, whose cruelty still does not deter the spirited Sara.
Alfonso Cuarón displays loving talent and imagination in his rendering of this timeless story. Working with the maestro of cinematography that is Emmanuel Lubezki, the glorious triumph of the spirit soars with bold colours and a sense of beauty in even the most dire of situations. The music, courtesy of Patrick Doyle, bristles with an exotic, far-reaching aura that is lovely to listen to.
The performances in the film are top-notch, especially Matthews who imbues Sara with an expressive streak and strength. Her many tales of Indian folklore are visually outstanding, in dazzling colours that contrast with the drab existence of Minchin’s school. In the villain role, Eleanor Bron is suitably chilly and beastly as the antagonistic Miss Minchin. Many moments linger long in the memory; Sara silently crying whilst writing a letter to her father and it turning to rain as he reads it in the trenches, the drab attic transformed into an exotic living room and Sara’s escape attempt in the pouring rain. As an audience we root for her and it is always good to see her taking on Minchin, whose seethes with anger as Sara defends herself and others against her wrath. The one moment that epitomizes her love of life and unwavering belief in hope is when she dances in the snow with abandon. Sara is a heroine we can relate to and it does bring a smile from the audience as she overcomes the challenges thrown her way.
Alfonso Cuarón‘s film is a beautiful testament to the human spirit and imagination, to be enjoyed by everyone. I’m sure everyone will find something to praise when watching A Little Princess, because it is simply a marvellous film.