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The Secret Garden Movie Review - Charming Heartfelt Fantasy

A beautiful story of love, loss and magic.

Reviewed by on Aug 06, 2020
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw The Secret Garden, the latest film based on a classic novel. The story of a magical garden and the orphan who discovers it thus changing several lives, is a beautiful entertainment.

In The Secret Garden based on the classic novel and updated to 1947, young orphan Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx) discovers a huge, long-hidden, neglected garden on the grounds of her unhappy uncle's (Colin Firth) remote English estate. Mary nurtures the garden back to life with the help of new friend Dickon (Amir Wilson), and together they use its beauty and magical power to help heal Mary's ailing cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst).

The Secret Garden Trailer



A Sad Past

During a war in India in 1947, rich tween Mary Lennox is left orphaned in her posh home when both of her parents die of cholera. She is found by soldiers and has to grow up fast when she is sent to England to live with her widower uncle Archibald Craven in a very spooky, neglected but once beautiful, isolated estate. Housekeeper Mrs. Medlock (Julie Walters) is strict and warns her to only stay in her room and not go “exploring”. At night she hears crying and other noises. A maid Martha (Isis Davis) is kind, says the noises are “the wind” and scolds Mary for expecting to be waited on.

In India, Mary is left an orphanIn India, Mary is left an orphanCourtesy of Studiocanal


Against orders, Mary goes outside, meets a scruffy stray dog and feeds it her disgusting bologna sandwich. There is a friendly robin seeming to follow her as well as the dog. Later, in her room, the birds on the wallpaper seem to come alive and remind her of home where her mother mostly ignored her. She asks Martha if soldiers died in the house during World War II. Maybe they are the noises she hears at night. Mary continues to follow the stray dog she has named Jemima after a doll she had. She is led to a huge stone wall overgrown with vines but doesn’t climb over.

Mary meets a scruffy stray dogMary meets a scruffy stray dogCourtesy of Studiocanal

Cousin Colin

While following noises at night, Mary comes upon the room of a young teen boy, her cousin Colin who can’t walk and is bedridden. He is the one crying at night. He tells her the house is cursed. It killed his mom Grace. She and Mary’s mom were sisters. They have that in common. The next morning, Mary finally meets her uncle who is far from warm.

Uncle (Colin Firth) sadly goes over his wife's thingsUncle sadly goes over his wife's thingsCourtesy of Studiocanal

She refuses a governess but he threatens to send her away to school if she causes him trouble. Playing with Jemima again, Mary has to help the dog get out of a horrible leg trap that injures it. She comes to the wall again and this time climbs over and falls into a tangle of overgrown plants, flowers and discovers an interesting ruin.

Mary discovers the secret garden pondMary discovers the secret garden pondCourtesy of Studiocanal

The Secret Garden

Mary is greeted again by the friendly robin who leads her to an overgrown mail box with a key inside. She takes the key and the plants seem to help her climb back over the wall. She tells Colin about the key and magical place but he isn’t interested. He is rude to her. He’s sure he is dying and was never loved. Mary discovers a hidden room full of beautiful clothes, jewelry and photographs of her mom and Colin’s. Martha tells her the sisters used to have parties and balls here and were happy together. Mary remembers that her mom became depressed and didn’t want to see her in India.

Mary and Dickon find the garden gateMary and Dickon find the garden gateCourtesy of Studiocanal

New Adventures

Looking for the dog, Mary meets Martha’s son Dickon who is trying to heal the dog’s paw. Together they go into the secret garden where there is fresh water to help heal the paw. Mary rushes back to tell Colin about the magical place. This time she helps him get into his wheelchair to explore his mom’s room and see the pictures of the sisters. There are some of them inside the secret garden, one of them shows Mary and Colin as tiny children. Colin is walking! 

Mary and Dickon think the garden can cure ColinMary and Dickon think the garden can cure ColinCourtesy of Studiocanal

Mary tells him he could probably walk if he tried. He is afraid. Mary returns to the garden where the dog is better and flowers grow magically. She finds the gate and opens it with the key she found earlier.

Colin in the Garden

Together Dickon and Mary convince Colin to let them take him to the garden where he is delighted. They re-name the dog Hector after Dickon’s dad since he’s a boy and Jemima is a girl’s name.

Colin learns to love the gardenColin learns to love the gardenCourtesy of Studiocanal

Later, at the estate, Mrs. Medlock catches Mary sneaking out. She knows Mary took a necklace from Grace’s room and has been “interfering” with Colin. Uncle is angry, will send her away to school and locks her in her room at night where she finds old letters from Grace to her sister, Mary’s mom in India. The garden was Grace’s and uncle locked it up after her death. Mary is sure the garden can cure Colin.

Mrs. Medlock (Julie Walters) is strictMrs. Medlock is strictCourtesy of Studiocanal

Back to the Garden

Mary and Dickon take Colin back to the garden and help him soak in the pond there and he feels better. Mary is sure that Grace made the garden magical. She died under a tree there. They find it and Colin is sad. He can’t face his mom’s death place. Back in her room Mary sees her mom’s ghost and remembers that mom’s depression over her sister’s death made her reject Mary. Uncle was sure Colin would die too so locked him away as an invalid. Mary and Colin get to know their moms through their letters. Mary will be sent away to school the next day.

Will Uncle and Mrs. M. understand the garden?Will Uncle and Mrs. M. understand the garden?Courtesy of Studiocanal

Mary confronts her uncle about locking himself and Colin away in the estate thus basically ending both their lives. Knowing she is right uncle gets drunk. When the kids are in the secret garden they see smoke and rush back to find that the estate is on fire! Can Mary get her uncle out? Will he ever want to live again? Will Colin ever walk and be a healthy kid? Will the garden flourish?

Happy in the gardenHappy in the gardenCourtesy of Studiocanal

Wrapping Up

The producers of the Harry Potter series and Paddington have created a film with beautiful cinematography that brings the magical garden of the title to life with colorful images. Acting is quite good, especially newcomer Dixie Egerickx as Mary. It’s been a long time since I read the novel but I think the story here is a bit more magical with friendly ghosts, more mystery, complicated relationships and plants that seem to not only move to aid the kids but thrive and/or die depending on the children’s’ presence.

Director Marc Munden talks to young Mary actress Dixie Egerickx The director talks to young Mary actress DixieCourtesy of Studiocanal

Although rated PG, the expensive-looking film could be a little too slow-moving for younger kids but older tweens and teens should enjoy it. Is it a ghost story, a fantasy tale or more? The mystery should hold interest and exploring the relationships between seemingly dysfunctional moms, a dad and their kids might hit close to home for some audience members.

Mary must explore the estate groundsMary must explore the estate groundsCourtesy of Studiocanal

In these troubled times, a little fantasy and family healing might be just the ticket. We award four stars.

The Secret Garden Movie Rating: 4

The Secret Garden Movie Review - Charming Heartfelt FantasyCourtesy of Studiocanal

See The Secret Garden On Demand everywhere August 7th.

Do You Believe in Magical Places?

Do you have a secret place you like to go to relax or play? Do you sometimes think it’s magical? Share your feelings with other Kidzworlders with a comment or write up on your profile page.