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An utter delight
Chessack7 July 2001
This movie is an utter delight to watch. I have probably seen it a dozen times, and I never get tired of it. Everything about it is perfect: it's well-directed, well-acted, beautifully filmed, has great music, and the script and story are wonderful.

Agneiszka Holland does an outstanding job directing this film. Each character is separate and unique; each one has little personality quirks that makes it seem real. Just about every scene in the movie includes children, animals, or both -- which must have been a nightmare to coordinate. Ms. Holland pulls it off without a hitch. Everything melds perfectly, and we are transported to a distant place and time, and fall in love with real, human characters.

The primary three characters in this story -- Mary Lennox, Colin Craven, and Dickon -- are all children, played by actors who are around 10 years old. Ordinarily having one child in a movie is difficult enough, but again, somehow they pull it off. All three kids -- especially Kate Maberly -- do a fine job of acting, and they are quite credible. Kate is simply divine as Mary Lennox, and Heydon Prowse was a good counter-point to her as Colin.

The story is touching and charming, and I think you'd have to be almost inhuman not to have a tear in your eye by the end of it. I absolutely fell in love with these children, and came to care very much about their characters. The "secret garden" really does seem to be a magical place (and I will say no more about it, since otherwise that would spoil things), and at the end I found myself wishing I could go and visit it first-hand. The accompanying music is wonderful -- I find myself humming it for days and days after watching it.

In short, everything comes together to make this film a masterpiece. It is easily one of the 10 or 12 best movies ever made, perhaps *the* best movie ever made. I love it so much that I went out and bought the DVD of it, even though I'd seen it 8 or 10 times already. If you have not seen it I give it my highest possible recommendation. My score: 10/10.
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Has the rare quality of understanding and enhancing its source
kingtrio916 January 2006
The Secret Garden is a rare treat where in the screenwriter and director actually understand their source, The Secret Garden by Frances Hogsden Burnett, and make a translation to the screen that not only captures the essence of the book but enhances the story as well. Too often directors spoil the story with their own self-interested spin (Little Big Man and Chocolat come immediately to mind)but here is a jewel that leaves the viewer saying "That was as good as the book." A genuine triumph.

The cast is outstanding, the children in particular, Kate Maberly as Mary Lennox above all. Even to the most minor extra everyone brings a smooth and compelling reality to the story.

However, the real star is director Agnieszka Holland. Against a challenging climate ( a rainy location) she manages to create a movie with a touching commentary on how children can literally change the world. Her insightful grasp of the themes of isolation, growth and rejuvenation, the need for a balance between nurture and allowable risk are all managed through the controlling metaphor of a garden. The artful rendering of these literary themes are what many directors apparently find most challenging ( I'm looking at you Arthur Penn)and generally blissfully ignore them compensating by glib insertions, extra action or clumsy sentiment. Not so here.

Not only is her focus exemplary but the photography is amazing. The interplay of light and dark, the time elapse photos of clouds rolling and flowers emerging all set to beautiful music captivate the viewer. The rainy weather was not shunned but used to fullest effect. I can only imagine the discipline it must have taken to wait for the sun to peep out from the clouds and then roll film hoping that the cast can pull off the shot before the light changed and a second take became a long wait. Fortunately all are up to the task and the film, the final scene in particular, results in a brilliant piece of motion picture art.

The 1993 version of The Secret Garden is a must for every family film collection, one the parents and kids can enjoy for its sophistication or simply for the great way in which this timeless classic is retold.
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Mesmerizing, beautifully acted family film
Tommy-9227 August 1999
While I have called The Secret Garden a family film, that doesn't mean it's just for children. It is a film for all ages, and sure to be enjoyed by all of them, too. A vivid and affecting film, it's got many things going for it: mesmerizing cinemetography and time-lapse photography, a good music score and script, breathtaking sets, wonderful direction, great acting, even gorgeous flowers! Agneiska Holland does a great job at bringing out all the subtle little points and details in the story and great performances from her young cast, particularly from Kate Maberly as Mary. Heydon Prowse is good, too, as Colin, and so is Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock, the frusterated, overprotective housekeeper who seems to be mean, but really is only doing what she thinks best. One of the few films I've seen that I can call perfect with conviction; definitely should be seen and appreciated.
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Just as beautiful as the novel
soda_pop4125 March 2000
This movie is one of my all-time favorite movies. I saw this movie about 5 times. I saw it with my friend on video tape when we were very young. Everything was beautiful - The cast, director's wonderful skills, music and the sight of a pretty garden. The girl who played Mary Lennox pulled out her best performance in this movie, Maggie Smith was as great as ever, the boy who played Collin was the most shining actor in the movie, and Martha was so kind and lovable character. Holland might be one of the most talented directors in the world, I give high points to the art in this movie and the beautiful music which I have listened to until the list of credits ended was so appealing to me. Give 10 out of 10.
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Beautiful and a classic
Lady_Targaryen29 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
'Secret Garden' is a classic to watch anytime you want. The atmosphere in this movie is perfectly portrayed as being sinister and dark and I remember being 8 watching this movie and feeling the oppressive feeling of Lord Craven's mansion. Mary Lennox is a 10 years old English girl who was raised in India. She didn't like to live in India, but the thing she hated the most was the fact that her parents were selfish and never cared about her. One day, an Earthquake in India makes a big devastation and many kids stay orphan,including our lead character Mary Lennox. She is sent to England, to live in her uncle's mansion,since he is now her legal guardian. Mary, which is a cold,bitter,annoying girl who hates to be touched and with lots of angry inside her, meets Martha, a cool girl and servant who works in the mansion and treats Mary very nice( the opposite of Mrs. Medlock,the governess) and her brother Dickon, a sweet boy who makes friendship with the animals. One day,Mary discovers in her aunt's room a key. But it's not an ordinary key, is the key from the secret garden, a garden who once was the place where her aunt always loved to stay and that now is locked since she died. Mary ask Dickons to help her to restore the garden,but they both make it a secret. In the meanwhile, Mary meets her cousin Colin, a sick and spoiled boy who stayed all his life in bed, since everybody always believed he would die very young. It's beautiful to see the changes of Colin and Mary: He learns to be more confident and less pessimist, changing the paranoia of being all the time confined in his bedroom because of 'spores', to go to the garden and try to walk again. And Mary, who once was so bitter, learn how to be a kid and to smile.
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Absolutely marvelous!
Rio-719 December 1999
This version of TSG is probably the best ever made. The film is so lovingly directed by Holland, I've been told that this story was one of her favorites growing up.

Heading a wonderful all-star cast is Kate Maberly as Mary Lennox. Maberly carried her character beautifully, she didn't appear to be acting as much as actually getting into character. Her attitude and personality changed as things got better in life. Maggie Smith, one of my personal favorite actressess, is wonderful as Mrs. Medlock. Others like John Lynch and Andrew Knott add more magic to the production.

Hayden Prowse was wonderful as Colin Craven. Surprisingly enough, this is the only movie he's ever been in. I certainly wish he acted more often for he has good talent.

8 out of 10
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virtually perfect
thomasgulch6 December 2003
This is one of those rare films that you recognize as a classic as you are watching it. This movie is virtually perfect in almost every way, and I doubt if it will soon be displaced as the definitive version. One aspect of this film which I loved was Andrew Knott as Dickon, who ultimately sublimated his love for Mary to help Colin in the grand tradition of the English Hero - the common man. As in the Lord of the Rings, it is not a Jedi Knight, or a superman or muscleman or gun-slinging cowboy who is the hero, it is one of the common folks who rises to the occasion when greatness is demanded by the times and situation. As did Sam Gamgee, the Hero of the LOTR, so does Dickon stand out as an almost mythical personification of love and sacrifice for the good of others with no thought of recompense. This is what I love about classic English novels, how the average guy can change the world, if he loves it enough. Wonderful stuff.
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Like a beautiful dream...
eveworth2 February 2000
Right from the beginning, you sympathize with this neglected yet spoiled little girl. Normally I adore Maggie Smith, but here the director is so astute, Maggie becomes Medlock and makes your blood boil with her officiousness and her thin-lipped inability to see or feel for the children. Luckily they all fend for themselves and create a world both unbelievable and wholly needed in our dry and hurried lives. It is for films like these that I go to the theater. It is because of stories like these that my sleep is peopled with gorgeous landscapes and interesting remarks.
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Possibly the best family film ever....
Estella11 August 2002
I first saw The Secret Garden over the Christmas period a few years ago, but didn't really see it for the beautiful film it is untill a viewing or so later. I have it on video, and watch it whenever I need cheering up. It is one of those rare films that I can really say is flawless. The cast are superb. The three children particulerly standing out. The scenery is breathtaking, and the score beautiful. It makes you feel that wonderful things can happen in life, and that you can make them happen. In a time when more and more films are relying on special effects rather then a good script and a decent storyline, this is one that film makers everywhere should take note of. A rare little gem of a film that should put a smile on the face of even the most cynical movie goer.
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An amazingly touching film
Smells_Like_Cheese12 January 2004
Ah, the many memories I have with The Secret Garden, I have to admit it, when I was a kid, I had this group of girlfriends and we always thought it would be so cool if we discovered a garden just like the children in this movie did. As silly as that sounds, the movie really got our imaginations going. Of course you grow up and you forget a little bit about the movies that you used to watch as a kid. But I was looking at the five dollar bin at Wal Mart and found The Secret Garden, I figured since I hadn't seen it in a while that I could check it out once again and still I think I have a special love for this magical story about bringing life back into a dead world.

The recently-orphaned Mary Lennox travels from her home in India to her uncle Archibald Craven's hundred-room house, Misselthwaite Manor. Mary, materially spoiled but emotionally neglected by her late parents, is rather unpleasant and unhappy in her new surroundings. Martha, a Yorkshire girl working as a maid, and her brother Dicken, a boy who can talk to animals, befriend and help her to heal and grow. She discovers her deceased aunt's secret garden, which has been locked for ten years and enlists Dickon to help her bring it to life. Hidden away in the gloomy house is Mary's cousin Colin, who has been treated all his life like a fragile, sickly invalid. This exaggeration has augmented what smaller problems he did have, turning him into a demanding, short-tempered, helpless boy. Mary, defying the orders of Mrs Medlock, discovers Colin and is taken aback by his disposition, but reaches out to him anyway. Soon Colin, Mary, and Dickon all spend their time in the secret garden. They perform magic, and make the garden live again.

The Secret Garden is always going to hold a special place in my heart, I absolutely adore this film and it brings back so many wonderful memories from my childhood. The children that they found to play Mary, Dicken and Colin were absolutely perfect and were great actors actually, I'm surprised they didn't move onto bigger things in their careers, but they had great chemistry and really brought the movie to life. The settings are gorgeous, the garden that the children created was so lovely and reminds me about all the wonderful things that spring brings, life. If you haven't seen The Secret Garden, I highly recommend that you do, it's a very special film that I'm sure you'll fall in love with as well.

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My Most Precious Movie Choice
snapper-1227 August 2004
Once in a while something excellent comes along that adds to one's life in unexpected ways.

As a single father of two children, boy and girl, I look far and wide for movies that will allow me to provide good, wholesome family time...without the fear of foul language issuing forth, foul gestures, or all-too-typical South Central L.A. ghetto demeanor being exhibited by punkish personalities. And unfortunately too many Hollywood child actors are nowadays forced to lower their personal ethics for inappropriate movie roles in our never ending averaging-down of America.

The Secret Garden dismisses the need to add token actors of every type (a.k.a. Disney's last unbelievable rendering of Annie - TV 1999), race and sexual dysfunction to it's cast. Movies once were special beautiful places where the best actors were chosen for the part, and where viewers could easily lose themselves and for a short time become something in their mind's eye that was wonderful and magical. This is such a film. It's cast is well chosen for the story, not for current day hypocrisy. The Secret Garden allows viewers to immerse in a world larger than themselves ease and without having to keep why is THAT person in the movie...or why does THAT person have to keep making obscene gestures or engage in a constant flow of obscene sexual double-entendres?

This movie is pure of heart. It is one of one of Hollywood's finest creations.

Kate Mayberly as Mary Lennox is convincing. Her entry into the film is as a 10 year old girl who is catered hand and foot, literally, bathed and dressed by Indian nannies, then ignored by her parents. She grew to feel pampered, unloved and unwanted, and without the training to even dress herself. This is a sobering cameo to any parent, of how not to 'raise' a child.

The Secret Garden has been re-made many times, in books, in the theatre, in movies...and several reasons for the sudden death of Mary's parents are provided. The manner of their death is utterly unimportant, for it is the rest of the movie in which the magic of love and acceptance blossoms, and the viewer's anticipation grows as surely as does Mary's own heart and personal demeanor, and as a perfect reflection of the new growth of her formerly abandoned and neglected aunt's garden.

Kate Mayberly is beautiful. She is an exceptionally talented young actress.

My family has enjoyed shedding a few tears along with her character, Mary Lennox during the many times we've viewed The Secret Garden, and we have learned a bit more about the value of caring...and about the power of love.

To anyone considering purchasing The Secret Garden as a family film, do it. There are no downsides here, no parts where a parent has to cover his child's eyes or ears.

The Secret Garden is the perfect family film.
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fanhybrid24 December 2005
I have heard of The Secret Garden, it is based on a book and there have been many adaptations of it, but this is probably the greatest, it is a tale about a girl from India who comes to stay at her uncle's mansion and discovers a secret garden and meets a sick child.

The acting is quite superb I think that they are all English actors and Maggie Smith is excellent as ever, but the real star is the little girl as she is very good, and the ending is the best I have ever seen, a really happy ending.

I am more into my comedy and action films but this is a real feel good film for all the family I gave it 10 out of 10.
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Doddering family film with overstated performances
moonspinner5525 June 2006
Arty but stilted adaptation of Frances Burnett's 1911 novel about a young orphaned girl who comes to stay with her chilly relatives, eventually taking over their rotting garden and transforming it into a sanctuary. Famous story previously filmed in 1949 with Margaret O'Brien in the lead; here, young Kate Maberly isn't so much miscast as she is misplaced; inappropriately dropped into the tale, she's a too-modern tyke representing neither time nor place, and her youthful exuberance is rather exasperating. The handsome, careful art direction and design have led some to call the picture a breakthrough in live-action family films, but the pacing is too leaden and the narrative isn't rich enough for most adults. *1/2 from ****
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Lynch is great...
TheOtherFool30 March 2004
Disappointing movie after Burnett's book (also known from Little Lord Faunterloy) about young Mary who moves back from India to England after her parents are killed in an earthquake. There she meets up with her nephew (bedbound Colin) and Dickon, a service boy. The three of them restore a neglected 'secret garden' and become friends while doing it.

I'm gonna say it flat-out: the acting of the kids was disappointing. In particular the kid who plays Colin (and, as we learn, never acted again afterwards) is as wooden as can be. The Mary-kid has done a lot since this one but she's not that great either. That and the fact that the roles these kids are playing are highly dislikable and the pace is dreadfull make up for not the best movie around (mildly put).

The older actors are great though: Maggie Smith is excellent as the tough Mrs. Medlock, who's job it is to protect young Colin and John Lynch is fantastic as the uncle. The scene where he finds out his son can walk is one of breath-taking beauty, but it takes forever to get to that point.

In short: disappointing, could have been a lot better, 5/10.
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A messiah who learned how to cry
gkearns15 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
(POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD)Ninety years ago Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote the classic book of childhood, "The Secret Garden," unleashing into the world of literature one of the most remarkable characters ever, Mary Lennox. Mary is a plain-looking ten year old child who was raised in India. She was all but completely ignored by her self-absorbed parents and put under the care of ayahs, who indulged her in order to keep her from bothering her parents. She had no friends or playmates of her age, so she never experienced the give and take of interacting with other children. Thus, she grew to the age of ten generally helpless, unable to care for herself, demanding, and lacking in basic social skills. Contrary to some critical opinions, Mary isn't so much nasty-bratty as haughty-arrogant. But she had a seemingly insatiable thirst for learning, and the capacity and wisdom to read and understand the ways of her world. And she had a driving will to achieve her goals. She also was able to recognize and appreciate offers of friendship and love from whatever source. (SPOILERS)Considering the depth and power given her character by author Burnett in the first half of the story of "The Secret Garden," it's ironic that with the introduction of Colin Craven, her cousin, Mary seems to be elbowed out of the way in favor of a bigger emphasis on Colin's story line. Indeed, in the original story and most of its movie incarnations, she isn't even given the privilege of sharing in the dramatic ending where Colin and his estranged father are at last united. It's especially ironic in light of the fact that it was through Mary's efforts that the garden and its magic were resurrected, Colin grew strong, and the reconciliation of Colin and his father was enabled. "The Secret Garden" is not Mary's story; however, it's the story Mary made possible. (SPOILER)Director Agnieszka Holland, a devoted admirer of the original novel, understood Mary's importance, and brought the story around in a full circle to end in the scene where Lord Craven, Colin's father, gives Mary her deserved recognition. "You brought us back to life, Mary," he tells her. So this movie starts with an arrogant child throwing her name at you, not caring whether you like her or not, and it ends with a messiah who "learned how to cry."

The whole cast was great, especially the children Heydon Prowse (Colin) and Andrew Knott (Dickon) and especially, especially Kate Maberly who played Mary with such power and depth. Also, recognition should go to Maggie Smith as the intimidating Mrs. Medlock, John Lynch as Colin's somber bereft father Lord Craven, and to Laura Crossley for her heart-warming portrayal of the bright, sensitive, humble Martha.
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Plush, but missing something
dough-nut30 September 2002
The book warmed my middle-aged calloused heart. This movie just doesn't quite make it and a couple of things really irritated me. Sets and scenery were awesome, but the pacing moved much too quickly, giving no time for reflection on the core issues of loneliness and pain. Kate Maberly's acting was at times alive, but overall not nearly as intense as the Mary Lennox of the book. And the transition from spoiled brat to humble, glowing and excited girl was never really evident. Dickon's character is good, but the romantic triangle implied with Colin is ridiculous and foreign to the relationships in the book. Mrs. Sowerby is totally overlooked (a critical role in the story as a healer, and the source of Dickon's and Martha's joy of life) and Mrs. Medford is made out to be too much of a villain. The tribal dance does violence to the original story's quest for "supernormal" help -- in the book they sing the Doxology, for goodness' sake! That wouldn't be politically correct now, I suppose. Overall, it was a charming, beautifully picturesque movie, but the unnecessary departures from the real story left me unsatisfied. On to the other versions & hope for the best.
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Perfectly done!
DomiMMHS22 May 1999
OK, I love the film! Kate Maberly is such a wonderful young actress and I would like to see more of her! When I saw the movie for the first time I was 14 and I was really astonished how she could make me identify with Mary Lennox, a 10-year-old girl from the beginning at the century, in a story line no one would give a damn about in our days. It has been an experience of its own since. Now I'm 18 and probably more cynical, so it has lost some of its magic to me, but I still like to try to get enchanted and I would urge everyone to ... well ... open his mind. It's a children's movie alright, but more important it is just perfectly done!

Mrs. Medlock, Mary Lennox's adversary, if you want so, is played by the excellent Maggie Smith. She rules the castle of Mary's tragic uncle, where she has to live. As if the castle weren't already a very eerie and uncomfortable place (you feel it), under her orders it becomes some kind of nuthouse as she's jerking around everybody - giving the movie very funny and very weird moments. It's unfair how she treats Mary and just plain crazy what she does to Colin, Mary's cousin. But she's not really evil, not a villainess, but she'll show us that she has a heart. I appreciate this attitude very much: how people are never really evil, only a bit sickened.

All characters and actors are really fine, but I want to lose a few more words about Mary Lennox. It's an extremely well-written character for a child and this allows Kate Maberly to carry the movie, make us want to accompany her. Originally, she actually is *egotistic*, but maybe only thus she can find her way and make things right. You'll find her cheeky, you'll like her and you'll understand her.

There is much more to say about the picturesque garden, music, friendships, attitudes and so forth... I'll leave it with my above feelings and thoughts. (If you know the movie, you'd find that I'm ignoring pretty much)

Because I'm *cynical*, it doesn't make the 10: so 9 out of 10, then!
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This movie is fine but it has very little to do with the real story
vega-3712 April 2008
The acting is very good, the scenery is lovely, the filming is well done, but where did this story come from? I have just read the book for the first time, and then directly after that watched this film version. What a disappointment! What a modernized mess! (not in the physical things but in the sensibilities) I could make a list of a hundred things they changed that didn't need to be changed. It's as if the filmmaker thought people couldn't understand the subtleties of the actual story and had to hit us over the head with it. Obnoxious!

One example is that instead of the lovely magic that Colin works on his own health by telling himself over and over that he will get well, and by believing it and visualizing it, the magic is portrayed as a weird voodoo thing in the movie.

This is the same problem with the Anne of Green Gables movies. This book was published at the same time, and the dreamy delicate sweetness of the book is gone in the movie version. It's as though the way of seeing the world in the early nineteen hundreds is impossible to bring to the screen, at least in children's movies. (I don't believe it is impossible, but the filmmakers seem to have believed that).
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My absolute favorite movie
SmilePretty1322 April 2003
The director was genius! I loved the music and the actors were so great! Kate Maberly really did a great job, as did Maggie Smith and Laura Crossly! I also noticed how Mary's dresses changed along with how she progressed with her attitude. They got brighter and prettier, than just "Black, Black or Black". I also really LOVED the music, Zbignew Preisner's music fit the movie SO well, and I LOVED IT!!! The movie had some scary parts in it, too! Like when she went at night to find Colin, the music and the camera-work and that scary blanket with the ugly boy on it covering Colin's room gave it an eerie kind of vibe. I love this movie!!!
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Breathtaking, Gripping and Beyond Expectation
IncaYeh22 August 1999
I couldn't stop. At first I thought I was only going to view the first 10 minutes then hit the bed, but I simply couldn't stop. The screenplay is so perfectly done that there is actually not a boring moment, not at all. And those excellent children and the surprisingly adorable Martha! I've always loved the original book and the Broadway musical of Secret Garden and now I love this enchanting film even more! The seventy minutes went without feeling any of them, I even forgot to check on my sleeping baby as I usually would! The beauty of it is breathtaking, the plot and pace is gripping and the whole film is quite beyond expectation! It's better than the other film 'The Little Princess' as The Secret Garden seems to suit grown ups better! I'd very much love to see a musical film made out of it someday!
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QueenMakeda8422 March 2004
I simply adore this movie. I can watch it over and over and never grow tired. It's simply stunning. Mary Lennox is an orphan who must stay with her cold and emotionally unattached uncle in his expansive manor. Here, she keeps to herself and finds an old garden and brings it back to life with the help of the staff and a young boy named Dicken. She comes to meet her cousin, the lil brat Colin, and teaches him to walk again despite being told he's unable to. The garden is apparently magical, but in a realistic way. There's no fairy dust or other such nonsense. It's just allowing people to believe in themselves and be happy. The music is touching as are the relationships of the characters. Colin wanting to marry her despite their 1st cousin status was a little too much for me, but didn't cause a break in the movie. I wished they had shown what she looked like as a grown up instead of avoiding her face, but I guess that's to keep her forever young in our minds. The mean maid (whose name i forget she was in Sister Act) provided a challenge to Mary, but nothing she couldn't handle and eventually won her over. Mary was a royal brat at first, but only cuz she didn't know how else to be since her parents were self-involved. I was glad to see her come out of it. Dicken was such a cool kid, I loved him a lot. He was smart without having to go to school for it and was just loveable and helpful. In other versions, he and Mary were supposed to get together, but he died in some war and she took up with Colin. I really liked him though. Colin was a sicly kid who they constantly fussed over and he was snotty to show for it. He calmed down a little too, but could still be a royal pain. He was temperamental and that was annoying, but that was his character. The father, Lord Craven, was only emotionally unattached because his wife died in childbirth and he thought his son wasn't able to be healthy and he would just run away. How English of him, lol. The garden was absolutely beautiful and gorgeous. Made you wanna be a kid again and just frolick around in it. All the animals and plants were inviting. It seemed simplistic and a good place to be. Even though Mary was young, she could still make a difference to herself and others and that's what makes the movie special and timeless.
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A magical trip into a mysterious house and garden
camibear721 May 2002
The Secret Garden is a classic with all ages. This version is best of all. Actors and scenery captures the story for us, of a little boy, motherless because of an accident and the garden that claimed her life. The boys father keeps the garden hidden from all. Over grown like that of in 'sleeping beauty' no one even knows it is there, till the boy's cousin comes to visit a little girl, who breathes life back into the home, the family and this poor crippled boy. Family entertainment to a "T". Might need one hankie, for it can be very heart rending at times. Great film to have in your movie library.
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renaldo and clara3 September 2000
Warning: Spoilers
A stunning visual delight with three adorable kids, an even more adorable teenage maid, and a "magical" garden. Now, this is a warning to everyone who hasn't seen this flick: ** YOU WILL HAVE THE OVERWHELMING URGE TO CREATE YOUR OWN GARDEN AFTER SEEING THIS MOVIE.****

With all great movies, there are a few copycats(I won't mention any names...."Little Princess"!); but this movie is very original in its own right. The acting is superb (by everyone, but especially the boy who plays Colin; Mary[Kate Maberly] should also not be overlooked.) The change of seasons and the whole feeling "dried-up flowers swimming in the porcelain sink with twin ivory elephants on an oak dresser" gives you is quite indescribable.

This is for sure a great kid's movie, but the profoundness of its sheer elegance and eerie beauty can only be truly appreciated by older viewers. (When I say older, I mean from 13 and up!) If you've ever seen the movie Legend, the floral/background scenes create the same "look" as Secret Garden.


One note: the magic scene (to me) seemed eerie, but not necessarily out of context. This was their world, a world that had no boundaries. They were children and knew they could create whatever colors they wanted wherever they wanted, with beautiful flowers. So the fact that Mary was from exotic India, and that Colin has never seen his dad and was desperate, the magic scene was a welcomed idea for honest attempt in the story to delve into "what would kids do?" scenarios....

What I find interesting about this brief but engaging "magic" insert: (1)It is a metaphor for international respect. Throughout the whole movie, Mary is trying to urge Colin to be open-minded, but he thinks all her India stories are stupid. The fact that Colin was the one chanting in the end (and that the magic actually worked) shows a change of heart in him for foreign things; and (2) The fact that this garden was so beautiful it hardly looked real was accented by this magic scene. The garden WAS real, but perhaps there was some magic involved to make it so enchanting. It just helps you think in more supernatural terms(to make it more engaging) than just a 19th century story in England about a girl who can plant seeds in a garden.

------------END SPOILER--------------

Watch this movie and create a "garden" of you own !

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Changes the message of the original story
rowan_red11 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Upon my first viewing, this film seemed self-important and overblown to me--something that I was supposed to enjoy because it was a "quality family film", as sort of a duty. I had never read the book by Frances Hodgsen Burnett, but as a garden-lover, I had expected to enjoy it.

The things that bothered me the most, however, were not the tedious story, but the anti-authority theme in the movie. I was surprised at the rudeness that Mary began with, and continued to use in her attitude towards adults in the household. She and Colin were rude to Mrs. Medlock and other adults who served them. And the magic scene, in which the children used a circling, chanting ceremony to "summon" Colin's father back, had a really sinister tone. There was a definite defiance in the way the children used this "magic," in which there is nothing of the sort in the original book.

When I read the book, which is an important and wonderful story, I realized my misgivings about this movie version were correct. The book was about children growing up healthy, unspoiled, well-loved, and full of faith. In this movie, the lessons of the book "The Secret Garden" are subtly twisted and manipulated into an angry, rebellious message that is a very different sort of story.
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Political rereading of familiar tale (possible spoiler)
the red duchess15 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Director Holland manages the trick of being faithful to Burnett's text, in terms of narrative, setting, character etc., while completely subverting its ideological assumptions. The unobtrusive analysis of class qualifies all movement towards resolution - the film ends not with aristocratic restoration but the excluded working class boy, ranging like a Western pioneer the plains of Northern England, fodder for the upcoming war; or revolutionary/Labour voter-in-waiting, who will eventually topples this hierarchy.

Mary's parents in India are symptomatic of wider Imperial apathy, while the ghostly manor is an allegory for a sick, disintegrating Empire. Mary the outsider in Gothdom bears the mark of 'Edward Scissorhands' screenwriter Caroline Thompson, but Kieslowski protegees Holland and Preisner only get one chance to emulate their master, a firelit children's wish reaching their guardian thousands of miles away.
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