Rediscovering ‘The Secret Garden’

When revisiting a childhood favourite after a decade or more’s distance, it’s often the case that what you fell in love with as an impressionable, young thing now seems shallow and shoddy; something where no amount of nostalgia-fuelled reasoning can justify the keeping of a burning candle for it. (On that note: prepare yourselves, the 20th anniversary of Space Jam pieces are coming.)

Additionally, it’s not too uncommon to find that many a childhood favourite will actually hold up as a good film in its own right now. But what’s a little rarer is to go back to one of these and find that it not only holds up remarkably well, but that it now seems like a unique outlier in the context of how family-aimed entertainment has gone since. Case in point: the 1993 adaptation of The Secret Garden, which I was fortunate enough to see on a 35mm print as part of the Kinoteka Polish Film Festival in London.

It’s part of the festival because it was the English-language debut of one of Poland’s more famous directing exports of the period, Agnieszka Holland, who’d dabbled in productions across Europe before venturing to Hollywood. Of late, she’s perhaps been better known for TV work like Treme andThe Wire, but her international clout at the time was through hard-hitting historical dramas like Europa Europa, for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Many of the other major credits behind the film have considerably impressive pedigrees. Francis Ford Coppola was executive producer, Roger Deakins the cinematographer, and Zbigniew Preisner, best known for his collaborations with Krzysztof Kieslowski, composed the beautiful score…

Full feature at Vague Visages

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