The Secret Garden (1993 film)

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For other uses, see Secret Garden (disambiguation).
The Secret Garden
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Agnieszka Holland
Produced by Fred Fuchs
Tom Luddy
Fred Roos
Screenplay by Caroline Thompson
Based on The Secret Garden 
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Starring Kate Maberly
Heydon Prowse
Andrew Knott
Maggie Smith
John Lynch
Music by Zbigniew Preisner
Cinematography Roger Deakins
Jerzy Zielinski
Edited by Isabelle Lorente
Distributed by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment
Release dates
  • 13 August 1993 (1993-08-13) (US)
  • 20 January 1994 (1994-01-20) (UK)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $31.2 million[1]

The Secret Garden is a 1993 British drama fantasy film directed by Agnieszka Holland and starring Kate Maberly, Heydon Prowse, Andrew Knott, John Lynch and Maggie Smith. It was written by Caroline Thompson and based on the novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Plot synopsis[edit]

The recently orphaned Mary Lennox travels from her home in India to her uncle Archibald Craven's mansion, Misselthwaite Manor, in Yorkshire, England. Materially spoiled but emotionally neglected by her late parents, who had just been killed in an earthquake, she is rather unpleasant and unhappy in her new surroundings. Head housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock, informs Mary she will not be spoiled as she was in India and will have to learn to take care of herself. She also orders her not to leave her room, but strange noises cause her to explore the mansion on her own. Mrs. Medlock eventually allows her to play outside to keep her from poking about the house. She discovers her aunt's garden, which was locked and neglected since her death ten years prior.

Martha Sowerby, a maid, and her brother, Dickon, a boy who can "talk" to animals, befriend Mary and help her heal and grow, and she gradually becomes more friendly. Mary enlists Dickon to help her bring the garden back to life. She eventually meets her uncle, who takes a liking to her and gives her permission to plant seeds "anywhere" before leaving town until the winter as he does not like spring, flowers or anything that reminds him of his late wife's death from falling off the swing in her garden.

Hidden away in the gloomy mansion is Mary's cousin, Colin, who has been treated all his life like a fragile, sickly invalid. This has turned him into a demanding, short tempered, helpless boy who has never left his room or learned to walk. Mary eventually discovers Colin and learns the strange noises she has been hearing is him crying. She is taken aback by his difficult nature, but reaches out to him anyway. She shows him that he's not sick and that the outside world is not as dangerous as Mrs. Medlock, who is in charge of caring for him, claims, so he decides to go outside for the first time.

Soon Colin, Mary, and Dickon spend all of their time in the garden, where Colin learns to walk. Anxious to show Colin's new-found life to his father, they perform "magic" in hopes to bring him back home. It appears to work, as Lord Craven awakens suddenly from a dream and decides he must return home immediately. He discovers Colin walking and playing upon his return, which brings joy back to him. Mary initially fears that she will be neglected again, but her uncle assures her that she is part of the family and thanks her for bringing the house back to life.



Yorkshire's imposing Allerton Castle was used for most of the exterior shots of Misselthwaite Manor, and some of the interior was also used. Fountains Hall was also used for part of the exterior.[citation needed]

Interiors of the former Midland Grand Hotel were used for filming as well, notable the scenes on the grand staircase.

Holland was already internationally famous as a director before the making of the film; in doing so she continued to work outside of Poland.[2]


The film features the end credits song "Winter Light" performed by Linda Ronstadt, which is based on two themes from the score by Zbigniew Preisner. However, it is not featured in the film's original soundtrack, but in Ronstadt's eponymous album Winter Light.[3] Sarah Brightman and the youngest member of Celtic Woman, Chloë Agnew, covered it for their albums; Brightman's Classics and Agnew's Walking In The Air.

The soundtrack, released by Varèse Sarabande, contains the original score.[4]


Since its 1993 release, the film has garnered positive reviews and currently holds an 85% "fresh" approval rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website, based on 40 reviews.[5]

According to Box Office Mojo, the film grossed 31.2 million domestically.[1]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award wins

Award nominations


  1. ^ a b "The Secret Garden (1993)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 31, 2009. 
  2. ^ Mast, Gerald; F. Kawn, Bruce. A Short History of the Movies (Seventh edition). Allyn & Bacon. p. 400. ISBN 0-205-29685-8. 
  3. ^,_Linda/Discography/album/P5302/R199736/
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The Secret Garden (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 16, 2010. 

External links[edit]