The Secret Garden: Book vs. Movie
The Secret Garden is a film based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic children's book bearing the same title. This movie is about a young girl who is literally shipped off to her uncle's English castle after her parents are killed in an earthquake. The main character, Mary, is played by Kate Maberly. She is tossed into a world where sunlight and cheerful discourse seem as rare as the attention she receives from the sour-pussed housekeeper Medlock, played by Maggie Smith. She helps her crippled cousin to see past his hypochondria and into the wonders of a long forgotten garden hidden beyond the confines of Misselthwaite Manor. While one critic dislikes the slight deviations from the book, another is content to relish in the imagery and scenery of The Secret Garden.
Megan Rosenfeld, a Washington Post staff writer, is obviously distressed at the modifications made by director Agnieszka Holland to the original story. Ms. Rosenfeld asserts, "If it ain't broke, don't rewrite it." She refers to some specific changes, including the use of an earthquake as a means to kill off Mary's parents, instead of the cholera outbreak employed by the book's author. Throughout her review of The Secret Garden, Ms. Rosenfeld hammers away at the movie's deviations from the book, though she acknowledges, "Some changes admittedly are useful. . . ." She also feels that screenwriter Caroline Thompson's effort was "annoying." This critic, with a few exceptions, gives the crew high marks for the props and scenery that support the story. Though charming, The Secret Garden is no more than a hatchet job on a classic story, according to Megan Rosenfeld (D1-2).
Desson Howe of The Washington Post saw The Secret Garden in a positive light, regarding the slight changes from the book as "quiet charms." Howe finds this picture to be an especially agreeable one, considering some of the less cerebrally challenging movies that are aimed at youngsters. This is mostly a serious movie, even...