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The Secret Garden

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Secret Garden Movie Poster Image
Great book, great adaptation.
  • G
  • 1993
  • 101 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 13 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

May encourage kids to read the book.

Positive Messages

Showcases the healing powers of nature and friendship. Themes include curiosity, communication, and compassion, as well as teamwork and perseverance.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mary and Colin start off being spoiled, but they learn important lessons about sharing and friendship.

Violence & Scariness

Colin is often ill -- though not as ill as he thinks he is. Mary's parents die in India.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Secret Garden is a fine family film, with no inappropriate content. Many kids will be drawn into the mystery of the garden and the strange crying in the house, yet be aware that this is a sedate story and may bore kids used to action-packed films.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5 and 7 year old Written byeliette February 5, 2011

Lovely movie, best to watch it together with younger kids

Both my children enjoyed this movie, particularly my first grader (who is also an avid fan of more action-packed stuff like Star Wars). There was enough suspen... Continue reading
Adult Written bywonder dove November 5, 2012

Outstanding film!

A story beautifully told about a newly orphaned girl named Mary who lost her parents in India and is being sent to England to live with her wealthy uncle, who i... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybeachbubbles154 April 9, 2008

This is the perfect movie for anybody to watch.

This movie and the book as well are amazing choices to watch or read. You understand what's going on from the very begining, and it keeps you wanting to kn... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old May 27, 2013

The Secret Garden, a very good movie.

This is a great movie! If your child is used to action packed films like Iron Man or Spy Kids, then they may get bored quickly. The only thing is that in the be... Continue reading

What's the story?

When her parents die, spoiled Mary Lennox (Kate Maberly) is sent from India to England to live with her uncle Archibald Craven, a mysterious and lonely man. He's rarely home, leaving Mary to the care of housekeeper Mrs. Medlock (Maggie Smith). One day, Mary finds the key to THE SECRET GARDEN, once the favorite place for her uncle and his wife, whom he adored. After she died, he locked it up and swore no one would go in there again. Mary decides to find the garden, but first she investigates the crying she often hears in the night and discovers her uncle's son, Colin (Heydon Prowse). He has been confined to bed all his life and is spoiled to the point of hysteria. Mary soothes him by telling him about the garden. Later, when he has a tantrum, she is the first person ever to set limits on his behavior. Mary finds the garden, and she and Colin and the maid's brother Dickon bring it back to life. As they do, Mary and Colin get stronger in body and in spirit. When Archibald returns, he meets them in the garden. They run to him, and it is clear that the garden will heal him, too.

Is it any good?

This is a fine adaptation of the beloved children's book. Children respond to Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden because (at least in the beginning) she is so unlikable, a relief from all the Pollyannas and Cinderellas who are rewarded for their relentlessly sunny characters and good deeds. And then there is the pleasure of meeting Colin, who is even worse, a "young rajah" who has had his every wish granted instantly and is surrounded only by those who live in terror of his hysteria.

Mary and Colin are a perfect match for each other, and the scene in which she responds to his tantrum with fury is especially moving, as is the scene in which they enter the garden together, a wonderful metaphor for all that is going on inside their spirits.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Secret Garden compares to the book, and how Mary changes through the course of the story.

  • Why do you think both Mary and Colin were so spoiled when we first meet them, and what caused them to change into more caring children by the end of the film?

  • How do the characters in The Secret Garden demonstrate curiosity, communication, and compassion? What about perseverance and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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