The Secret of Moonacre



Enchanting fantasy turns teen into sweet, selfless princess.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: October 29, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids are taught the value of generosity and understanding.

Positive messages

Maria overcomes the loss of her father and shows that you don't need power and authority to fix the things that are broken in the world. As long as you have desire, will, and understanding, anything is possible.

Positive role models

Many positive role models, and those who act as negative role models are reformed in the end. Maria survives the loss of her father with a positive attitude. Her kind, generous nature lifts the unhappy spirits surrounding her. Although she comes from a lavish lifestyle, Maria isn't interested in power and greed. Her selfless acts save Moonacre and teach the others how to open their hearts. 

Violence & scariness

Maria loses her father early in the movie, which could upset some kids. Also, a few short battles in which Maria is chased by villians; they're short, but the darkness and dramatic lighting may frighten young children. Some other slightly scary scenes involving mysterious movements of doors and walls.

Sexy stuff

One affectionate kiss.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults drink socially. The governess has one too many cocktails and falls asleep in her chair.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this enchanting fairy tale has some sad and scary scenes that might be disturbing for very young or sensitive kids. Maria loses her father early in the movie, though the audience never actually meets him. Also, one family is portrayed as villainous, and they wear dark clothes and masks, and there are some brief battle scenes with Maria being chased.  A magical, protective black dog has red eyes and transforms into a fierce lion when the enemies appear. Maria -- who's selfless and generous -- is a great role model for kids, and the movie has strongly positive messages about achieving your goals.

What's the story?

Maria Merryweather (Dakota Blue Richards), agirl ofgreat fortune and wealth, finds herself homeless and orphaned at the age of 13. The only inheritance Maria receives from her deceased father is a bookthat tellsthe legend ofMoonacre's famousMoon Princess. Forced to leave her home in London, Maria moves to the countryside of Moonacre Manorto live with an uncle she has never met. Maria's uncle, Sir Benjamin (Ioan Gruffudd), is unfriendly and aloof until he notices Maria'suncanny relationship with the animals surrounding the castle. The horses flock to her, and the dog becomes her immediate companion. When the walls surrounding her mysteriously come to life, Maria quickly learns that she is the last Moon Princess and must save Moonacre from an ancient curse. It's upto her to uniteher family with its rivals, theDe Noirs, before the 5,000th moon rises.

Is it any good?


This is a beautiful and enchanting tale about a little princess whose selfless actions save an entire kingdom. When Maria takes it upon herself to unite her family with their centuries-old adversaries, the De Noir family, she's pleasantly surprised to find some unlikely characters coming to her aid. With the many magical creatures lurking throughout the castle, you start to wonder whether the castle itself might be magical: walls change form, trap doors appear, and white horses turn into unicorns.

The delightful film, directed by Gábor Csupó (Bridge to Terabithia), will appeal to tweens with an appreciation for magic and fantasy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the battle between the Merryweathers and the De Noirs. Is their disagreement only about a string of pearls? What do you think the pearls represent? How does your family handle disagreements?

  • When looking at the role that men and women play in this film, what

  • differences do you notice? Do males or females seem

  • to be more villainous than the others? Does the film perpetuate any stereotypes?

  • Do you think that father De Noir lacks sincerity in the end, or does he

  • truly learn a lesson? And who do you think is most responsible for

  • Maria's kind-hearted nature?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 12, 2010
DVD release date:September 21, 2010
Cast:Dakota Blue Richards, Ioan Gruffudd, Natascha McElhone, Tim Curry
Director:Gabor Csupo
Studio:Entertainment One
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Adventures, Book characters
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some mild peril and language

This review of The Secret of Moonacre was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old February 6, 2011

Great for tween girls!

This is definitely one of the most fun movies I have ever watched. At the time I watched it tied for first place as my favorite movie with Howl's Moving Castle. It has positive messages of overcoming your differences and changing the world yourself and not just sitting around for others to fix the world. The movie seems to be set in a sort of alternate reality, around the Victorian Era. Towards the end of the movie there are some points which could be creepy to kids under eight, or even sensitive eight year olds. At one point a dog gets shot and seems to be dead. The main character is held at gunpoint and later jumps off a cliff that seems to be at least a hundred feet high, and lands in the ocean. At first the movie seems to be divided into two sides, with the Merryweather's being "good" and the De Noir's being "bad". Later it becomes clearer that this is not the case, and both families are at fault. Still, the movie really centres around the kids being better than the grown-ups, which works well, but isn't a great method. The main character, Maria is very selfless, generous, and noble-hearted, and the De Noir boy, Robin, is also fairly nice and courageous, once he listens to Maria and his head deflates a bit. The grown-ups seem to hold their grudges rather strongly, and aren't as great of role models. Sir Benjamin, Maria's uncle, breaks off his wedding when he finds out his bride-to-be, Loveday, is a De Noir. Loveday, in return runs away to the woods and hides. Also, Coeur De Noir decides to kill Maria when she runs away from being held captive at his run-down castle fortress. Later in the movie the two men seem to forgive each other, but neither seem really sincere. There is a budding romance between Maria's governess and Sir Benjamin's butler, and throughout the later part of the movie you are suspecting something more to spring up from the new relationship between Maria and Robin then what ever does. The movie is loosely based on the book, The Little White Horse, which I found not quite as enjoyable. But then again I had higher hopes for the book having already watched the movie. Fans of the book might be disappointed as many things in the plot were changed to include magic. The movie is aimed at 10-12 year old girls, but will be enjoyed by other crowds as well, though it might not appeal as much to boys as girls, there being no significant or good main character that is a boy until about three-fourths of the way into the movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byBeckstar October 29, 2011

Quite Scary, I wouldn't recommend it to children

Although this is geared towards children, it is quite scary in a lot of the film with the dog and the enemies..etc. I'm an adult and I found it to be quite intense. There are scenes with an animal dying, a girl leaping to her death and it appears like she is drowning when she lands..quite a few scenes in this I would say need adult supervision My Mum also found it to be quite scary. If your children have read the book before the film (The Little White Horse), your children may be disappointed. I read the book when I was 13 and was disappointed in how the film turned out, especially with how few the scenes were with the 'little white horse'. The plot seemed quite different to what I remember in the book. It's also quite a strange film and Maria wears some EXTREMELY weird clothes. Such as the crinoline of a dress without the dress on top....etc.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Parent of a 7 and 9 year old Written byncst January 7, 2014

Great modern fairy tale twist

We found this jewel on Netflix and gave it a try with our two sensitive girls after previewing it first. It did have a few scary scenes for our daughters, but they loved the story of the little girl who saves the valley. They were most disturbed during the chase scene near the end when the girl is running for her life trying to find Moon pearls to save the valley and also when Wolf the dog gets shot (he doesn't really die.) This movie scared them less than the Princess Bride which caused them both tears.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence


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