Published on Dec 23, 2013
The Secret Garden is the 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame TV film adaptation of the novel The Secret Garden, aired on CBS November 30, 1987 and produced by Rosemont Productions Limited, who also produced Back to the Secret Garden. The movie starred Gennie James, Barret Oliver, Jadrien Steele, Billie Whitelaw, Derek Jacobi.
This version of The Secret Garden is much different than others. The story is told as a flashback of the adult Mary returning to Misselthwaite Manor after World War I. She looks for the key to the secret garden, but doesn't find it, so she sits down and remembers her childhood.
The main story begins in colonial India where the young spoiled, rotten Mary Lennox is played by Gennie James. One morning she awakes to find her servants not answering and her parents having a late dinner party. She goes back to bed and reads a story to her doll. A few hours pass after she goes and eats some of the food that was leftover and drinks wine. Her parents soon die of cholera. She is soon sent to live with a friend of the family named Mr. Craven (played by Derek Jacobi).
While adjusting to life in England, Mary meets the maid Martha (played by Cassie Stuart) who encourages her to go outside. She plays outside by herself but also meets Martha's brother Dickon (played by Barret Oliver), who can talk to animals. At first Mary rejects him as a friend, but then she learns about the secret garden from Martha; it is a walled garden that was locked up after Mr. Craven's wife died. After Mary discovers the key and the door to the garden, she asks Martha for gardening tools, and Dickon comes to deliver them. Mary lets him in on the secret and they work to revive the garden together.
Meanwhile in the house, Mary becomes alarmed by sounds of crying that she hears at night. One night she goes exploring and meets Colin (played by Jadrien Steele). The two become fast friends, and she helps him to stop thinking that he will die. Colin believes he will have a lump on his back like his father, and he has stayed shut up in his room for years. Eventually Mary tells him about his mother's garden and how she has been inside but that he mustn't tell anyone about it. Dickon visits with his animals, then they take Colin to the garden secretly. They are all friends, although Colin seems to have a special crush on Mary. The gardener Ben Weatherstaff discovers the kids inside the garden by standing on a ladder at the wall. Colin tries to stand up when Ben thinks he is a cripple, and all are amazed. Ben offers to help revive the garden as well, and Colin tries to learn to stand and walk by himself.
Far away, Mr. Craven dreams about his late wife Lillias. After a letter from Susan Sowerby, Martha's and Dickon's mother, Mr. Craven decides to return home at last, and he discovers Mary and Colin in the garden. Mary encourages Colin to stand. He walks to his father and they hug. Colin says he is well now and will live forever.
When the adult Mary finishes remembering her childhood, Ben Weatherstaff greets her and gives her the key to the secret garden. They discuss what happened to Dickon, who died in the war, at the Forest of Argonne. (Years ago, Dickon had made a prediction that he would be parted from the other children, and it seems like he knew his fate.) Then the adult Colin (played by Colin Firth) enters the garden, having been wounded and released from the hospital. He says he has asked Mary to marry him before, but she never answered him. She says she wanted him to ask her "in our garden", so he proposes again and she accepts.
Highclere Castle was used for interior and exterior settings of Misslethwaite Manor and the film uses Chopin's Nocturne Op.72, No.1 in E minor as it's main theme.
Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett (24 November 1849 -- 29 October 1924) was an English-American playwright and author. She is best known for her children's stories, in particular Little Lord Fauntleroy (published in 1885-6), A Little Princess (1905), and The Secret Garden (1911).
Frances Eliza Hodgson was born in Cheetham, near Manchester, England. After her father died in 1852, the family eventually fell on straitened circumstances and in 1865 emigrated to the United States, settling near Knoxville, Tennessee. There, Frances began writing to help earn money for the family, publishing stories in magazines from the age of 19. In 1870 her mother died and in 1872 she married Swan Burnett, who became a medical doctor after which they lived in Paris for two years where their two sons were born before returning to the US to live in Washington D.C. There she began to write novels, the first of which (That Lass o' Lowries), was published to good reviews. Little Lord Fauntleroy was published in 1886 and made her a popular writer of children's fiction, although her romantic adult novels written in the 1890s were also popular. She wrote and helped to produce stage versions of Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess.