Secret Garden [1987]

Though there are several notable film adaptations of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic children's story about an orphan girl and a bedridden boy, this 1975 BBC rendition is among the most acclaimed for its understated British elegance, superb performances, and faithful adherence to the book's essence. Sarah Hollis Andrews plays Mary Lennox, a spoiled, neglected child living in 19th century India who is suddenly orphaned after an outbreak of cholera. She is sent to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, in his estate on the Yorkshire moors of England. Thus begins Mary's new life at Misselthwaite Manor, and soon, the rough edges of her contrary nature begin to soften through the kindness of house servants--especially Martha (Jacqueline Hoyle)--and the discovery of a beautiful, hidden garden. The manor contains another mystery, Craven's allegedly crippled son, Colin, bedridden for years and as feisty as Mary. When the cousins finally meet, their cantankerous spirits clash before a friendship ensues, thanks to the magical touch of Dickon (Andrew Harrison). The same enchantment that turns a colorless garden into an infusion of brilliant hues works to make a boy walk and a family heal. This version (seven 30-minute episodes) is more kid-friendly than its 1993 counterpart (which took lavish dramatic license) and is so authentic to the original story that much of the script is verbatim from the book—a point literary purists will cheer--not to mention the deliciously flawless Yorkshire accents. (Ages 8 and older) --Lynn Gibson

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