2 Movie Reviews – ‘The Secret Garden’ (1993) & (2020)

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ and I’m Tim Bradley!

In the past few days, I’ve been checking out two film adaptations of ‘The Secret Garden’, based on the 1911 book by Frances Hodges Burnett. They were the 1993 film adaptation and the 2020 film adaptation. Last year, I did a trailer review featuring predictions for the recent 2020 film adaptation.

Over the years, there have been many film adaptations of ‘The Secret Garden’. As well as the 1993 and 2020 film versions, there’s a 1919 film version, a 1949 film version and a 1987 film version. There have also been TV adaptations of the book including a sequel called ‘Back to the Secret Garden’.

The 1993 film adaptation is the one I’m most familiar with since I’ve seen it so many times over the years. It was a while since I last saw the film upon revisiting it again, but I remember it so vividly and it remains a fond childhood memory. It also feels a good, charming and well-produced drama film. 🙂

The story of ‘The Secret Garden’ is essentially about a young girl called Mary Lennox who gets sent away to live with his uncle in his Yorkshire estate after losing her parents in India. The book sets the story at the turn of the 20th century and the 1993 film adaptation seems to do that as well from watching it. 🙂

Mary eventually befriends her cousin Colin Craven who is at first disabled before he eventually learns how to walk. They, with their friend Dickon, spend many happy days in a ‘secret garden’ that once belonged to Colin’s mother. Gradually, Mary needs to gain the love and respect from her uncle.

Now both the 1993 and the 2020 film adaptations seem to follow the same plot as far as I’m concerned. But I prefer the 1993 film version more than the 2020 film version. The 1993 film is more faithful in terms of a film adaptation of the book and it’s clearer in terms of focus than the 2020 film.

The 1993 film adaptation stars Kate Maberly as Mary Lennox, Heydon Prowse as Colin Craven and Andrew Knott as Dickon Sowerby. All three child stars are very good in the film since I felt that they became firm friends during the course of the film and grew to like each other, which is what I expect.

Maggie Smith plays Mrs. Medlock, Lord Craven’s servant and housekeeper in the film. This was in the days before Maggie Smith did ‘Downton Abbey’. 😀 John Lynch stars as Lord Archibald Craven, Colin’s father and Laura Crossley stars as Martha, Mrs. Medlock’s servant and Dickon’s older sister. 🙂

Throughout the 1993 film, I could feel what the focus of the film was trying to be. Mary learnt the balance of sorrow and love whilst Colin’s father learnt what it means to love again after losing his wife and Colin’s mother. I grew to emphasise with the character since they became really likeable. 🙂

That’s not really the case with the 2020 film. No doubt the film production is very good and it looks visually impressive. It’s interesting that the film was produced by the people who did the ‘Harry Potter’ films and the ‘Paddington’ films. I liked the ‘Paddington’ films when I watched them recently.

But unlike the 1993 film, the 2020 film seemed to be all over the place in terms of a focus. This accounted for the distracting flashback scenes that gave us information on who the characters were, but I didn’t feel I knew the characters well enough emotionally. Quite a number of them are unlikeable.

Originally, the 2020 film was going to be released at cinemas last year, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic – please keep safe – the film got rescheduled and it was released on Sky and at a few selected cinemas instead. I saw the 1993 film on DVD whilst I watched the 2020 film via Google Play.

Dixie Egerickx stars as Mary Lennox whilst Colin Firth stars as Lord Archibald Craven and Julie Walters stars as Mrs. Medlock. Edan Hayhurst stars as Colin Craven, Amir Wilson stars as Dickon and Isis Davis stars as Martha. Now all the actors are good in this film and Dixie Egerickx is a good actress.

But there are number of issues I have with the characterisations of the characters. For one thing, the young actors look like they’re in their teens whilst the children in the 1993 film did look like children. Another is that Colin seemed rather wimpy and didn’t want Mary to be around when she met him. 😐

I at least felt that Colin and Mary liked each other in the 1993 film and wanted to see the ‘secret garden’ whilst in the 2020 film, Mary was forcing him to ‘get up and walk’ and remember the love his mum had for him years ago. There didn’t seem to be that cousin love between them in the 2020 film as opposed to the 1993 film where they at least had a ‘love’ for each other and liked each other.

Also, Mary didn’t seem to get the same treatment as Colin did in the 2020 film as opposed to the 1993 film. By that, I mean in terms of luxury. Mary doesn’t seem to be that well looked after by Mrs. Medlock and Martha in the 2020 film as opposed to the 1993 film where she was at least cared for there.

As I indicated in my predictions for the 2020, Colin Firth’s Archibald Craven did seem to be cold and villainous as opposed to the 1993 film where the Archibald Craven in that at least wanted to see his son Colin and rekindle his love for him. I also felt sympathy for Maggie Smith’s Medlock towards the end of the 1993 film. I found it difficult to sympathise for Julie Walters’ Medlock in the 2020 film.

I also don’t approve of the spitting hands moments between Mary, Colin and Dickon in the 2020 film. It doesn’t send out a very good message when we’re currently living in a pandemic and we all need to keep our hands to clean. This might’ve been frowned upon if the film was shown at cinemas.

Cuddles: “It’s very important that you wash your hands! Because if you don’t, you’ll be filthy. Like Dr. Filthy is!”

Speaking of dogs, I did like the dog featured in the 2020 film whom Mary befriended. Mary gave the dog the name of Jemima, thinking it was a girl whereas in fact it was actually a boy. I don’t know if there was a dog in the original ‘Secret Garden’ book, but I imagine the 2020 film took some liberties.

Another difference between the 1993 and 2020 films is that the 1993 film took place in 1901 whilst the 2020 film took place in 1947. Not sure why the 2020 film had to be set in the 1940s as opposed to the 1900s. It makes me want to trust the 1993 film as being a faithful film adaptation of the book.

So yeah, as you can gather, I enjoyed the 1993 film of ‘The Secret Garden’ more than the 2020 film. I’m glad I saw the 2020 film recently on Google Play and it has satisfied my curiosity about it. But I feel more connected to the 1993 film as opposed to the 2020 film. The 1993 film did bring a tear to my eye when I watched it to the end. My parents also prefer the 1993 film more than the 2020 one.

Incidentally, the house in the 2020 film caught fire and Mary ended up having to rescue Colin Firth’s character. I didn’t realise the film ended up being ‘Spider-Man 2’ where Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker ended up rescuing a kid from a fire in a New York building. 😀

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

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