In 1911, English author Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote one of the most delightful and enduring classics of children’s literature, “The Secret Garden.”
Several stage and film adaptations have been made over the years, and now STX Films has produced a remake of the classic. The film was directed by Marc Munden and produced by the same team behind “Paddington”.
The film follows a young orphan girl who, after being sent to live with her uncle, discovers a magical garden on the grounds estate.
When you think of “The Secret Garden”, you might envision a whimsical children’s film filled with fantasy and lovely outdoors visuals.
Sadly, two-thirds of the film is dark and inappropriate for children under the age of ten years old.
If you plan on splashing $20 for the movie rental, then you should be aware of five key elements of the film:
1. Colin Firth
That’s right, Mr. Darcy from “Pride & Prejudice” stars in the film.
If you’re envisioning his character as a “knight in shining armor” as he usually portrays in films, then you’ll be sadly disappointed.
Firth (Uncle Archibald Craven) is a stern, depressed, and hunchbacked character.
2. Dark Premise
The first two acts of the film were a bit too dark for a children’s film. Certain scenes in the film even made me turn away because I thought someone was going to die.
For example, when Mary lost her parents in India, she was all by herself in her home for a long duration of time, without food and found by British forces. The suspense of the scene even made me wince.
In addition, the sadness and darkness was visually expressed through color: blue, grey, dark green hues.
3. Bratty Aristocratic Kids
Both Mary (Dixie Egerickx) and Colin (Edan Hayhurst) are unlovable characters: they both come across as spoiled/bratty aristocratic children.
Don’t get me wrong, both actors are extremely talented. However, I believe their intent to capture their character’s unfortunate circumstances was lost in translation.
4. The Film Touches on Serious Mental Health Issues
I do have to commend the filmmakers for addressing certain mental health issues that affect our modern day culture: depression and grief.
For example, there are flashback scenes of Mary trying to get the attention of her depressed mother, who wouldn’t leave her bedroom. “Her sadness has made her unwell,” Mary’s father explains. “It’s not her fault.”
Furthermore, the filmmakers brilliantly communicated both visually and verbally how grief can affect us all differently.
As in the case of uncle Archibald, he was so grief stricken about the loss of his wife that his own reality was blurred, and it affected his relationship with his son.
On another hand, Mary used her imagination to escape and repress her grief.
5. Beautiful Cinematography and Scenery
The cinematography and scenery is the best part of the film, and it’s here where the “Secret Garden” shines. You’re automatically transported to a magical paradise.
The stunning outdoor scenes were actually filmed in the U.K.: Trebah Garden, Bodnant, Woodhall, Fountains Abbey, Duncombe Park, Ilford Manor, and Puzzlewood.
In addition, the film’s official Twitter page offers an activity packet for children to download. The packet includes a crossword puzzle, word search, bookmarks, memory game, and different coloring pages.
To download the entire activity pack, please visit https://www.secretgarden.movie/activitypack/
The film is now streaming on Amazon Prime, HULU, Apple TV, and other streaming platforms.
The remake of “The Secret Garden” was not what I was expected, nor do I think it’s appropriate very small children. However, with the uncertain times we live in, I believe this film does offer an escape for families, and it gives a positive message of hope.
Are you interested in watching the remake of the “The Secret Garden”? If so, comment below. We would love to hear your thoughts.