The Secret Garden – Then and Now

When I was younger there was a certain collection of classic stories that were turned into movies. It seems like everyone around my age was sat in front of them, only to find themselves so engaged they had to watch the films over and over again. Essentially, they may have been the first adaptations we saw, without even realizing.

As a child, when I first saw The Secret Garden I could not read. It was a story that captured me and the relationship I felt I had with my own backyard. I remember being a little girl, thinking the robins that bobbed around could understand me and that we were exploring together in the woods of my backyard, complete with wild flowers and wild rose bushes. It was years later when I discovered the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The pages engulfed me once again, but as age does to a reader, I found a new story in the pages that kept me entranced. It was less about the garden and much more about the secrets.

the-secret-gardenThe movie was made for children. Just enough dark to keep you frightened and hiding behind the couch, but enough light-hearted adventure to pull you closer to the screen. The white pony, the castle in the hills, magic around a large fire, the stone walls around a secret place to play and that old wooden swing remain images in my mind as I recall the film. Even the hint of a romance with the dashing Dicken, (the first love of my life), and Mary.

Of course, as a child you can’t quite put a finger on that layer of love, but are intrigued by it all the same.

The book was still made for children, but as literature does in comparison to film, the plot and story lines are considerably slowed down. When I first read it, I was a very slow reader, and the pacing seemed to change the tone of book. I began to see the darkness in the family in contrast to the lighter story of getting a boy in a wheelchair into the garden.

The loss of a mother and a sick little boy abandoned by his father, who refrains from looking at his son from the hurt of memories. The same hurt that caused him to lock up and neglect his wife’s garden for years until Mary’s appearance. The type of loss and the impact it was able to have over an entire household was something new to me and it forever changed the way I watched the adaptation of the film.

The older I became, the more I could see these lines in the film. It seemed the more disturbing depth I could see, the more hooked I became as I began to see the brilliance of a film created for all generations. A good time to a three year old, but with the abilty to bring tear to a woman in her 50s. It even can bring a second thought to a title so familiar that we hardly notice the depth in the words chosen by publishers long ago to describe the entire story…

The Secret Garden

How old were you when you first read the book? Saw the film? How has the story changed with you over time?

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