The Secret Garden

‘The Secret Garden’ is the fourth film adaption based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel. Emerging in numerous TV adaptations, a Japanese anime version and numerous stage appearances shows its simple power and adaptability for any medium. That’s a mark of a well written book with generations continuing to be entranced by the tale. This latest adaptation does justice to the source material, providing an enchanting atmosphere mirroring Burnett’s classic prose.

In British India in 1947, young Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx) is orphaned after her parents are killed. Sent to live with her wealthy Uncle Archibald (Colin Firth) on his sprawling English estate, Mary is unsure of her new surroundings. Archibald’s strict housekeeper Mrs Medlock (Julie Walters) keeps watch. Mary’s life changes after meeting Archibald’s bed-ridden son Colin (Edan Hayhurst). The pair strike up a friendship as they explore the estate’s grounds. They discover an enclosed garden that leads to new wonders they never thought possible.

‘The Secret Garden’ is an interesting look at the healing power of nature. Mary, Archibald and Colin are a wounded trio haunted by death. Only by dragging themselves out of a self-made rut can they be rejuvinated as the garden represents an emotional oasis. Marc Munden’s skilful direction transports you into this horticultural nirvana, bringing believability amongst the story’s fanciful allure.

Aside from the strong performances, ‘The Secret Garden’ also shines via the expert cinematography. The garden’s lush surrounds are vividly brought to life, successfully capturing its magical atmosphere. The screenplay is careful not to talk down to its audience, allowing viewers to discover the multi-layers provided.

‘The Secret Garden’ is a solid, fresh take on a beloved story that has transcended the years with its timeless tale. No doubt there will be future attempts at remaking it, although this one has an effortless charm which may be difficult to emulate.

Rating out of 10: 7


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