The Secret Garden
- Kate Maberly as Mary Lennox
- Heydon Prowse as Colin Craven
- Andrew Knott as Dickon Sowerby
- Maggie Smith as Mrs Medlock
- John Lynch as Lord Craven
- Laura Crossley as Martha Sowerby
Imaginatively rendered, moving and magical, The Secret Garden is a classic tale of growth, change and awakening. Under the skilful direction of the talented Agnieszka Holland, it becomes a movie that will be enjoyed both by children and adults alike.
In Colonial India, Mary Lennox is the unloved daughter of a general and his wife. Sour and resentful, Mary is left an orphan after her parents are killed in a violent earthquake. Send to England, she is placed under the guardianship of her uncle, the Lord Craven. He lives in Misselthwaite Manor, a large gloomy house on the Yorkshire moors. Mary immediately clashes with the stern housekeeper Mrs Medlock, who tells her not to go wandering around the house and to not make a nuisance of herself. Her uncle is never around and barely ever returns to the manor, owing to the fact that his wife died years before. Life seems dull for lonely Mary, until she finds a mysterious key whilst searching the house one day. The key opens the door to a garden that has been locked away ever since the lady of the house fell off the swing in it and died, casting a melancholy spell over the place. Mary opens the garden and sets about secretly converting it back to life, in the process she changes personally from a resentful little girl to a kind and thoughtful person as the garden blooms around her. Also discovered is her cousin Colin, who is hidden away because everyone believes he is ill. There is in fact nothing wrong with the boy, but everyone surrounding him believes that because of the master’s misfortunes, they will soon be transferred to Colin. Aiding her with the garden is Dickon, a young boy and brother of Mary’s kindly maid Martha, who is constantly surrounded by animals and adept with the knowledge of nature. As the garden blooms and Mary realises that there is hope in a world that always seemed to be against her, prepare to be moved by this lovingly created adaptation of the classic novel as it weaves its heartwarming spell around you.
Agnieszka Holland imbues the film with a heart and maturity that deals with difficult themes of death and neglect, but also on the hope and healing process that can occur in dire situations. In Holland’s skilful hands, The Secret Garden becomes a moving experience that brings a sensitivity to the classic story. The thoughtful screenplay by Caroline Thompson shows us the gradual rebirth of Mary into a sensitive girl after her initial soreness at being neglected by her parents and always feeling alone. The stunning cinematography exudes the dark shadows of the Manor with its gloomy halls and many staircases, that soon give way to brighter surroundings once Mary sets about bringing the garden back to life. An evocative score gives The Secret Garden a beautiful centre with lush strings and heavenly voices capturing the themes of personal growth and the many life lessons that are present in the film.
Kate Maberly is marvellous as Mary, encompassing her sadness of her but also the kind heart that has long been buried underneath her sour and gloomy demeanor. It is through Mary that the story takes focus and we are genuinely moved as she comes to see that she is indeed cared for by many, unlike she originally thought. Heydon Prowse is appropriately anguished and timid as Colin, who has morbid fascination with death owing to the constant worries of those around him. Andrew Knott is sensitive and adventurous as the animal-loving Dickon, whilst Maggie Smith steals all of her scenes as the beastly housekeeper who is constantly in a fuss and clashes with Mary on regular occasions. John Lynch exudes a weary gloom as the Lord of the house and Laura Crossley is likeable as Mary’s servant Martha.
Touching, heartwarming and filled with a human heart, The Secret Garden is a loving adaptation of the book that keeps the spirit of it and gives it a poignant retelling.