Watch: The Secret Garden trailer below
First published in 1911, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel The Secret Garden is widely recognised as a classic of English children’s literature, and has been adapted countless times, on stage, on television, and on film.
The first filmed version – sadly now lost – was made just eight years after publication in 1919, while its most recent big screen adaptation, produced by Francis Ford Coppola, came in 1993. Now, in 2020 a new version of the classic childhood tale – which sees a young girl discovering a hidden oasis on her uncle’s land – is being released into cinemas and on Sky Cinema on 23 October.
Produced by Heyday Films and Studiocanal – the team who brought us Paddington and Paddington 2 – this new version stars newcomer Dixie Egerickx in the lead as Mary Lennox, with Colin Firth as her uncle Archibald Craven and Julia Walters as the housekeeper Mrs. Medlock, and promises to do something different with the source material.
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Speaking exclusively to Yahoo Movies UK, producer Rosie Alison (The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas/Testament of Youth) explained that, along with moving the story from the Edwardian period into a post-war setting, the new adaptation draws heavily on Burnett’s own memoirs to offer a new perspective on the tale.
They’ve “done more to emphasise the power of imagination which underpins the story,” Alison explains. “This is particularly true of our version of the garden,” which appears more fantastical than previous adaptations.
“For this we drew from the author’s fascinating memoir (‘The One I Knew Best of All’) in which she recalls a key moment in her childhood when she entered her very own ‘secret garden’ in an abandoned house near an industrial quarter of Manchester. It’s a revelatory account.. [and] clearly a seedbed for her great novel.”
Read on to learn more about The Secret Garden, and to see some exclusive new behind-the-scenes photos from the making of the film.
Why did you decide to adapt Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden?
Rosie Alison: Like so many, I’ve loved this novel since childhood. There’s something so simple yet universal about the idea of a secret garden – and a lonely child in a wintry house finding that hidden lost place with the power to restore and heal her life through nature, and friendship. It’s one of the great redemptive fables. But although I’ve enjoyed all the various filmed versions, the last film was nearly 30 years ago, and it feels worthwhile to try and keep this story fresh for a new generation to discover.