The Secret Garden is a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett first published in book form in 1911. (It is one of Burnett’s most popular novels and seen as a classic of English children’s literature.) When Mary Lennox’s parents suddenly die, she is sent to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, on his remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors. While exploring, she discovers a hidden magical garden.
Plot: Set in England during 1947, The Secret Garden follows a young orphan girl who, after being sent to live with her uncle, discovers a magical garden on the grounds of his estate.
Director: Marc Munden
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Runtime: 99 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Faithful in spirit while putting its own spin on the source material, The Secret Garden adds a charming entry to the long list of this beloved book’s adaptations.
“You may not love this remake, but it’s a visually stunning adaptation.”
The Secret Garden will create three types of people; one, ‘the hater’ — two, the ‘in the moment people’ — and three, the ‘comparison fanatic’… none of the three are wrong and they will all sit in their respected corners all over the internet. The hater will simply talk about the original and how there was no need for this to be made in the first place. The in the moment people will try and enjoy this movie without comparing it to the first, and finally, the comparison fanatic will take an expanding amount of time to try and understand each film. There will be a lot of comparisons on what both do and don’t do — instead of digesting one, they will digest both simultanesouly.
Where do I fall? I’m think I’m one of the in the moment people.
I was born in the 90’s, so I grew up on the 1993 film with Kate Maberly, Maggie Smith & Heydon Prowse. I had no intention of comparing the two because; one, I’m not watching this as a child full of imagination, two, I’m not the target audience, and three, you can’t remake a classic.
The novel is an timeless-favorite rich with material that would make it nearly impossible to create a bad film — this movie isn’t bad by any sense of the word. You may not love this remake in comparison to the original, but (at the very least) it’s a visually stunning adaptation. On top of that, we never stray away from the plot — we continually move forward knowing exactly where the story will end up. That’s not a bad note, it’s preferred for the target audience — children. Mix that in with the beautiful-lush set design and clean cinematography — you definitely don’t have a loser. In 2020 you could assume that a director would go overboard with CGI inside the secret garden, but Marc Munden keeps it in check without going overboard.
The only aspect this movie is missing? Another level of depth and emotion to tie into the final act of the story. This isn’t a fault created by the actors… they do their jobs just fine — it has to fall under writing. I think another 15-20 minutes would have done this film wonders. I always find myself in the camp that wants longer movies… this movie clocks in at 95 minutes when the credits start to roll — it simply needed more.
One thing’s for sure, I’ll be re-watching the 1993 version in the near future.
In conclusion —
When it comes to the bonus features included in this combo set, there are three. ‘Characters’ which shows how the actors brought them to life in a new imitative way, ‘Concept to Reality’ which shows the creation of the garden, full of vivid and magical realism — and lastly, ‘Page to Screen,’ which is a behind the scenes look at how the timeless, best-selling novel was brought to life again in the modern age.
Taking everything I’ve said into account, The Secret Garden does gets my recommendation to own… with a few caveats. First, you need to be a fan of the original, and if you’re not a fan of the original and you have children, I’m sure they will enjoy it — it will spark their little imaginations! Finally, if you find yourself without children and you’re curious about the remake, it — at the very least, deserves a rent to find out for yourself. No matter what you decide to do, you can grab a copy at your local retailer on Blu-ray when it releases this October 6th.
Are you a fan of The Secret Garden? Will you be picking it up to own? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
While your here, check out more of my 4K & Blu-ray reviews. Even more, see the newest trailers, press releases, music and more on the rest of the site. Follow me for faster updates on Twitter and Instagram.