A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Back to the Secret Garden is a sequel to the 1993 film The Secret Garden and is a charming tale of mystery and magical realism set in 1946 Yorkshire, England. The kids in the school occasionally get into brief shouting and shoving matches as they try to figure out why the school's secret garden is dying, and how it can be brought back to life. But on the whole, the kids remain quite prim and proper as they come of age. The headmistress, Martha Sowerby, is a tough but fair authority figure, and a welcome contrast to the two-dimensional authority figures often portrayed in kids' movies.
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What's the story?
Lizzie Buscana is an orphan from Brooklyn who lives in an orphanage in Alexandria, Virginia. When the wife of an English diplomat, Lady Mary Craven (Cherie Lunghi) invites Lizzie to live in Misselthwaite Manor in Yorkshire, England, Lizzie accepts. It is there, under the care of the new headmistress Martha Sowerby (Joan Plowright), that Lizzie learns about the secret garden. Born with a green thumb, Lizzie begins to find ways into the secret garden (even as the entrance mysteriously closes to Miss Sowerby) and is determined to find out why the flowers don't grow as they once did. As she tries to enlist the help of her fellow classmates and teachers, Lizzie learns that the secret garden is going to need more than sunshine, water, air, and soil to return it to its former grandeur.
Is it any good?
BACK TO THE SECRET GARDEN is a charming mix of magical realism and mystery set in 1946 Yorkshire, England. The characters are very much of their time -- prim, proper, yet inclined to mischief -- and fully drawn and developed. The acting -- from the largest to the smallest roles -- is excellent. The story is engaging, and stands among the best of English children's stories.
Even if you haven't seen the 1993 film The Secret Garden (of which this is a sequel), Back to the Secret Garden stands on its own. Parents and kids alike will find much to enjoy in this film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the time and place in which this movie is set. What objects inform the viewer that it's set in the 1940s? How is the culture of the movie different from today?
How do boys and girls act with each other in this movie? How is this movie similar and different from other coming of age movies?
What are the movie's messages? Why do you think the creators brought magic into the story?
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