Dorin and Kendyl talk the magic of The Secret Garden (2020), the themes it pulls from the source material, and the changes made.
With mother’s day just passing, I find myself reminiscing and missing more the things I use to do with my mom rather than past ways we celebrated the holiday. One of my fondest—and also possibly the nerdiest—is when we use to go to the library to rent VHS tapes. They were free but there was a limit of how many you could take out at a time and we were each allowed to pick just two of three. You might think two or three is a relatively large number for a nine year old but when you live in a house without cable a VHS tape is worth more in its ounces than gold!
My point is that it was on one of these public library treasure hunts that I first stumbled across The Secret Garden, an enchanting mysterious tale of a young girl who befriends a sickly boy and has magical adventures in a long forgotten garden. I watched the movie, completely enchanted to the point where I ended up having my mom hunt down the book for me and it is a piece of literature that I still re-read today as a twenty-something.
It seemed like a wonderful splash of serendipity when I found The Misselthwaite Archives—a web series adaptation of that same beloved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s that recreates the characters in a fresh modern way—on Youtube.
I was drawn in almost immediately when I realized this inventive adaptation bumps the characters ages up from adolescents to disgruntled teens, swaps a manor for an academy and the cholera that kills the original heroine’s family for a sudden accidental car crash.
I normally shy away from modern takes on classic tales, but this looks good—really good—and I’m actually kind of giddy that I found it while it’s still airing weekly!
Watch new episodes Wednesdays and Fridays at 9am on YouTube, and find all their multimedia accounts at MisselthwaiteArchives.com.
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 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