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The plot of The Secret Garden revolves around Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx), a wealthy, spoiled girl from 1947 colonial India, an update from the original 1911 book by Frances Hodgson Burnett. When her parents unexpectedly die, Mary is sent to Misselthwaite Manor, an isolated, gloomy and somewhat mysterious country estate on England’s Yorkshire moors. Here she encounters her widowed reclusive uncle, Archibald Craven (Colin Firth) and his fastidious housekeeper, stern Mrs. Medlock (Julie Walters).
Before long, Mary meets her cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst), who is her age. Due to a spinal deformity, he is wheelchair-bound and sequestered from the outside world in an isolated wing of the house.
While exploring the extensive estate grounds, Mary discovers an overgrown walled garden, which has been padlocked since the death of Craven’s wife a decade earlier. Mary finds the gate key and enters the weed-choked tract of land. Here, she and a new pal named Dickon (Amir Wilson) set out to restore the garden to its former glory.
The children come to learn that this Edenic property also seems to offer something truly extraordinary—the ability to heal injured lives. Though not actually a “magic” place, magic of a sort does exist in the wonder of nature and its connection to people.
Mary and Dickon take Colin to see the garden, where he finds that he is able to stand and walk—and eventually run. The glum Craven witnesses the amazing transformation that has occurred with his son and the newly restored garden, and he finds happiness once more in his life.
History Behind The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden has been delighting children for more than a century. That’s when author Burnett utilized the tenets of both Christian Science and theosophy (a teaching about God and the world based on mystical insight) to show how her characters become healed—and not just through involvement with nature and each other, but via positive thinking, as well.
This is the second time Colin Firth has acted in a film adaptation of The Secret Garden; he was among the cast of a 1987 Hallmark TV movie version, playing the adult Colin Craven.
Burnett’s pastoral tale of self-healing has been seen on multiple times on television and stage and is now offered on film for the fourth time since 1919. This version was produced by David Heyman (the Harry Potter films), directed by Marc Munden (National Treasure, Sovereign) and scripted by Jack Thorne (The Aeronauts, Wonder).
What better film than this for children growing up during today’s often grim and chaotic times?
The Secret Garden releases in August.