New York Times - 08/13/1993
"...Elegantly expressive, a discreet and lovely rendering of the children's classic..."
Entertainment Weekly - 02/11/1994
"...Holland found the perfect young actress to play Mary Lennox....It's hard to imagine the little loner in your house not taking this one to heart." -- Rating: B
Variety - 08/16/1993
"...Executed to near perfection in all artistic departments....[A] superior adaptation of the perennial favorite novel..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 08/13/1993
"...It is a work of beauty, poetry and deep mystery, and watching it is like entering for time into a closed world where one's destiny may be discovered..."
Agnieszka Holland's adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic fairy tale, THE SECRET GARDEN is a highly entertaining family picture that is overflowing with gorgeous imagery. Ten-year-old Mary Lennox (Kate Maberly) is a spoiled rich girl living in colonial India with her aloof parents who frequent elegant parties and leave her with servants who attend to her every whim. When her parents are killed, however, Mary's life changes drastically. She's shipped off to England to live in the enormous manor of her father's friend, Lord Archibald Craven (John Lynch), and his invalid son, Colin (Heydon Prowse). Lord Craven, a miserable recluse since his wife's death, ignores his son and leaves the household management to Mrs. Medlock (Maggie Smith), an ironhanded authoritarian. In this cold environment, the children, with help from spirited maid Martha Sowerby and her younger brother, Dickon, manage to find happiness in a special garden hidden away for years. Beautifully shot by Roger Deakins, Holland's film is a visual feast that captures the fantasy like tone of the book without sacrificing any of Burnett's original vision. Zbigniew Preisner's magical score adds another lovely dimension, making this a film that individuals of every age can enjoy.
Frances Hodgson Burnett's timeless tale of the magical effect of a long forgotten garden on the lives of three lonely English children. Executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola and rendered with lyrical flair by Polish director Agnieszka Holland (EUROPA EUROPA).
Family (General) |
Family Interaction |
Kids Adventure |
Theatrical release: August 1993.
Filmed in Yorkshire, England.
THE SECRET GARDEN is not Polish director Agnieszka Holland's first film in English, but it is her first mainstream English language picture.
A film which opened to very strong reviews, Holland's version is a fine rendition of the often revived classic: in 1949 Margaret O'Brien starred in MGM's adaptation, the BBC and the Hallmark Hall of Fame have produced films based on the 1911 novel, and there was also a popular Broadway musical with music by Elizabeth Swados.
In an interview with film critic Amy Taubin, Holland said that although the book was a childhood favorite, the adaptation was not her initiative. Caroline Thompson finished the script and sent it to her for consideration.
Screenwriter Caroline Thompson opens the story with an earthquake rather than a plague, telling interviewer Mark Burman: "The earthquake is a strong metaphor for shaking up one's life, as we who live in Los Angeles know....It's meant to inspire."