The Secret Garden

Screenwriter Caroline Thompson and director Agnieszka Holland have turned Frances Hodgson Burnett’s rather gothic 1911 children’s book into an evocative, beautifully realized picture (1993). Three lonely and neglected children (Heydon Prowse, Kate Maberly, Andrew Knott) in a remote part of rural England discover a locked and equally neglected garden, and in the course of befriending one another they slowly bring it back to life. Maggie Smith plays the unfriendly, somewhat Dickensian housekeeper who blocks their way to freedom, and the lovely musical score is by Zbigniew Preisner. As a children’s movie with a fine sense of magic (without fantasy) and a great deal of feeling (without sentimentality), this beats the usual Disney junk hands down, and adults will find it an expert piece of storytelling. G, 102 min. (JR)

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