Set in 1947, The Secret Garden (2020) is based on the classic novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. On the eve of partition between India and Pakistan, Mary Lennox’s (Dixie Egerickx) parents are tragically killed. Mary wakes to find her house in disarray and no-one else around.
The formidable Mrs Medlock (Julie Waters) takes the now orphaned Mary to England to live with her Uncle Archibald Craven (Colin Firth). Mary arrives to find a house in mourning. She’s told she must stay in her room and not wander around the large mansion. At night she hears cries from somewhere in the house. When she goes to investigate, she discovers her cousin, Colin (Edan Hayhurst), who’s bedridden.
Colin is at first reluctant to make friends with Mary, having lived in isolation for a very long time, but he gradually lets his defences down. The two become firm friends and Mary persuades him to venture outside the house. In her time alone, Mary has discovered a secret garden. She has made friends with a garden robin, a dog she has named Jemima, and a boy called Dickon (Amir Wilson). Mary introduces Colin to her friends and shares the delightful and magical garden with him.
Colin’s spirits are lifted by his new experiences and gradually he regains the use of his legs. When Uncle Archibald discovers what has happened, he is at first enraged, but soon comes to appreciate the positive influence that Mary has had on Colin.
Orphans; death of parents; magic; fantasy; supernatural
The Secret Garden (2020) has some violence. For example:
- Uncle Archibald yells at Mrs Medlock to get rid of things.
- Jemima the dog gets its paw caught in a rabbit trap and is badly injured.
- Mrs Medlock grabs Mary by the arm for taking a necklace from Colin’s mother’s room. Uncle Archibald is very angry and yells at Mary. He marches her to her room and locks her in.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
The Secret Garden (2020) has some use of substances. For example, Uncle Archibald drinks whiskey.
Nudity and sexual activity
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Secret Garden (2020) is a remake of a classic movie, which is itself based on a classic novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The movie is quite grim in parts, but this contrasts effectively with the colourful beauty of the secret garden. In this version, the garden is more magical than secret. Mary’s mother and aunt appear there in supernatural form to help and guide Mary. They also sometimes guide Uncle Archibald.
The movie is well acted by an outstanding cast, but its themes and content make it unsuitable for children under 8 years. Parental guidance is also recommended for children aged 8-10 years.
The main messages from The Secret Garden (2020) are to not be consumed by tragedy but to overcome loss and grief in positive ways and learn to live in the present.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include determination, curiosity, hope, friendship and a positive outlook.
The Secret Garden (2020) could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the difficulty of losing a parent and the importance of retaining happy memories while moving on with life after loss. The movie might give you the chance to discuss death and your family’s beliefs about what happens when you die.