The Secret Garden (1993) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

Children’s literature has always provided great source material for filmmakers. Examples include Disney films and wildly successful franchises like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Part of the appeal of children’s films is that they sometimes appeal to both kids and adults, which is probably why a lot of these films are called “family fare.” Frances Hodgson Burnett is one of the most beloved and respected authors in children’s literature, and her novel The Secret Garden has remained a seminal literary classic. This timeless story might have been adapted in black-and-white in 1949, and with only a few touches of color in that particular film, but the 1993 adaptation is full of color, life, and hope.

A Toast

Since this film is completely shot in color, it does contain some beautiful sequences. The scenes within the titular garden are absolutely spectacular. Kate Maberly is fantastic as Mary Lennox in spite of her youth, and Maggie Smith was so phenomenal as Mrs. Medlock that her performance earned her a BAFTA nomination even though her part was in a supporting role. There is also a lot of natural imagery that honors the themes of the original novel, which include magic and friendship. The child actors actually did a wonderful job in their parts, which proves that great performances depend on the merit of the performers rather than their respective ages. This film is simply a prime example of a wonderful family film!


Even though some scenes in this film are a bit depressing, there is still a lot of color (both visually and metaphorically). The metaphors in the original novel are actually essential elements that reinforce its compelling themes, and this film adaptation honors the legacy of one of the best novels ever written for children. A common misconception is that adults are oftentimes considered “too old” for family films, but many films within this genre can appeal to both adults as well as children. Therefore, age really does not matter when it comes to the entertainment world because any film can teach powerful life lessons to people willing to learn from the creative talents that produce such captivating motion pictures.

The Secret Garden (1993) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for every landscape shot

Take a Drink: for every beautiful image within the actual “secret garden”

And Enjoy a Drink Secretly: for every secret in this deep and philosophical film (which also has a religious tone as well)

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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