The Secret GardenPosted: December 12, 2011
I never fully examine my Anglophilia – other than the fact that I’m apparently drawn to it, just like I’m drawn to Scandinavian countries, because the cold and grey (there, just talking about the UK got me to spell it “grey” and not “gray”) Britain is the very opposite of the hot and humid Vietnam. Opposite attracts. But when I really think about it, it all started with a movie – “The Secret Garden”, to be exact. I was too young at the time to join my sister in her appreciation of Pride and Prejudice and A Hazard of Hearts.
This movie is one of the few cases in which I prefer the adaptation, even though it stays close to the book – Mary, an orphan girl, returns to England from India to live with her uncle in a large mansion full of secrets, an abandoned garden being one of them. There are only little changes: for example, Mary loses her parents in an earthquake as opposed to the cholera (which is more true to life in India, but an earthquake makes it more believable that Mary manages to survive); or Colin’s mother is Mary’s mother’s sister, as opposed to her father’s, and the sisters are also twins, which creates more of a connection between Mary and Colin and Mr. Craven.
Perhaps I prefer the movie simply because of having seen it first and growing up with it, or perhaps it’s because the changes made to the adaptation make it less sentimental, more relatable, but still retains the book’s magical feel. The acting is very good – all the kid actors (including the girl who played Martha) are adorable and hold their own very well; Maggie Smith, as Mrs. Medlock, who is tough yet not without her vulnerable moment, is awesome as always.
The lovely soundtrack deserves a mention; I never fail to have goosebumps whenever I listen to Winter Light. And the costumes are also very pretty, with amazing attention to details (as evident in the opening scene where Mary is being dressed by her Ayah.)
However, the main reason why “The Secret Garden” got me obsessed with all things British is the gorgeous sets – the mansion, the surrounding scenery, and of course, the garden itself. Perhaps this is why I prefer the movie. It brings such breathtaking beauty to an already beautiful story, and altogether, a near perfect adaptation if there ever is one (though I Capture the Castle is pretty near perfect too. One day I’ll review, or rather, rave about it.)