Back to the Secret Garden

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Back to the Secret Garden Movie Poster Image
Charming magical realism sequel set in 1940s England.
  • G
  • 2002
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

More for entertainment than education, but kids might learn a bit about England in the 1940s. Also, kids might be interested in reading the Secret Garden books after watching the movies.

Positive Messages

Some good messages about the importance of loving and caring for people and things (like gardens), and how a lack of attention can cause things to falter.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lizzie Buscana devotes her free time to cultivating flower gardens. She does her best to make sure the flowers stay alive, and loves the creatures who frolic in the secret garden. As a headmistress of a boarding school, Martha Sowerby is strict but fair to her students, even when they get into trouble.

Violence & Scariness

A fire breaks out on the bed of one of the students in the boarding school, but it is quickly put out. A boy is shoved into a fountain when a girl thinks he stole a key that opens the door to the secret garden. A boy is shoved from his chair by a girl after the boy calls her names.

Sexy Stuff

Some name-calling and disrespect, like calling a teacher a "sow," or when a boy calls Lizzie "American" in a derogatory way.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A student of an English boarding school asks a girl newly arrived from America if she brought cigarettes, because she says they could make money selling the cigarettes in the nearby village.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2-year-old Written byAnounymous June 19, 2019
Adult Written byMixyplixl April 14, 2014

Don't bother - watch the original "Secret Garden" instead

This is one of those "cooked-up" sequels that has no relationship to the classic book or movie. The original characters are all grown up (with one de... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMOONKELLY August 5, 2020


its good for children

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love good stories

Themes & Topics

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