The Secret Garden (1987) Gennie James, Barret Oliver, Jadrien Steele, Michael Hordern, Billie Whitelaw Movie Review

The Secret Garden (1987)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Gennie James and Barret Oliver in The Secret Garden (1987)

An Old Secret

After her parents are struck down with Cholera, Miss Mary Lennox (Gennie James) finds herself having to leave India and head to England where she is to stay in the country mansion of an old friend of the family. Initially struggling with the coldness of Yorkshire Mary ends up making friends with the various people who work at the mansion whilst learning all about the mansion's secret garden which explains the sadness of Archibald Craven (Derek Jacobi) whose home it is. It leads to Mary not only trying to find a way in to the secret garden but uncover what is behind the wailing she hears at night and that no one will speak about.

I mentioned in my review of the 1993 version of "The Secret Garden" that I believe these movies of classic books work best for those who read the novel when they were young as they reconnect with how they felt when they read the story as they watch. And that is good because it gives the movie an extra layer, some thing personal which will make it special to the individual. The thing is that if like me you have never read the story on which "The Secret Garden" is based then the movie really needs to be to bring the story and characters to life to work. Unfortunately for me this 1987 version of "The Secret Garden" doesn't succeed in doing that.

As such I have to say that this version of "The Secret Garden" ends up another one of those movies which feels too stiff, too dark and at times too awkward with some hesitant acting to really grab you. I suppose in a way it all feels too heavy handed with I am sure comes from director Alan Grint trying to really tap in to the darkness of what has been going on in the mansion from the secret in the mansion as well as the secret of the garden. But it makes it a slog of a movie which whilst eventually coming good requires you to be patient to get through to the good part of the story.

What this all boils down to is that this 1987 version of "The Secret Garden" might have entertained an audience back in 1987 due to the story's ability to make you remember things from when you read the book. But this is a rigid take on the storyline with a darkness which makes it hard work especially for those who have never read the story.