Secret Garden 1993
THE SECRET GARDEN is a moving story, loosely based on the children’s tale of the same name. Mary (Kate Maberly), a 10-year-old orphaned in the 1906 earthquake in India, goes to live with her uncle in England. Angry and unhappy, Mary is verbally abused by her uncle’s mean housekeeper, Mrs. Matlock (Maggie Smith). Her widowed uncle is rarely home and has seen Mary only once. Although ordered by Mrs. Matlock to stay in her room, Mary explores the mansion and its grounds. She discovers a secret garden where her aunt is said to have died. With the help of a neighbor child she secretly replants the beautiful garden. Mary’s life suddenly takes on meaning when she discovers that her 10-year old cousin lives on the grounds. The crippled little boy becomes Mary’s secret responsibility as she helps him regain strength. Yearning for their absent father and uncle, the children dance with torches around a fire, chanting some words of magic. Later, when the family is reunited, the children believe the magic chant worked. Although billed as a children’s movie, the excellent acting and heartwarming story make THE SECRET GARDEN a delightful family film.
These are innocent children whose worst fault is being arrogant or headstrong. However, the characters develop from selfish, isolated individuals into a strong, caring family unit. A word of caution about the magic and fire scene: the children are shown with flaming torches circling a fire. Although supervised by an adult, an old gardener, their maneuvers are dangerous and could suggest like behavior to children. The chanting of magic is questionable, as is the children’s belief that the magic words bring the father home. With this in mind, we have given the film a low positive acceptability rating.