The Secret Garden Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: magical realism in the depiction of the garden; detailing of an ancient estate; beautiful shots with sun glare; young actors playing the main roles Cons: the scriptwriters simplified the material of the children’s book; the plot is inferior to the visual part of The Secret Garden

Fantasy genre
Directed by Mark Manden
Cast: Dixie Egerickx (Mary Lennox), Colin Firth (Lord Archibald Craven), Julie Walters (Mrs. Medlock), Amir Wilson (Deacon), Aedan Hayhurst (Colin Craven), Gemma Powell (Grace), Maeve Dermody (Alice), Sonia Goswami (Aaya), etc.
Studios STX Films, StudioCanal, Heyday Films
Year of release 2020
IMDb website

The novel “The Secret Garden” by writer Frances Eliza Burnett has been brought to the screen many times. It was turned into feature-length films, television series and even into a serial anime (released under the name Anime Himitsu no Hanazono). As the trends of recent years show, any classic will sooner or later receive a modern interpretation with another generation of viewers in mind.

The creation of the new film was carried out by people connected in one way or another with the world of Harry Potter. The producer of The Secret Garden was David Heyman (in the late 1990s, he acquired the rights to film a series of books by JK Rowling and successfully organized the filming of eight films about the magical world). And the screenwriter was Jack Thorne, co-author of the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” In addition, actress Julie Walters appeared in the film, becoming the on-screen embodiment of Molly Weasley. It’s funny that in The Secret Garden she is almost unrecognizable – from a good-natured red-haired witch, the artist turns into a strict gray-haired housekeeper.


The film “The Secret Garden” introduces us to a spoiled girl named Mary, whose family lives in India. Her parents die from a cholera epidemic, and the orphaned child is sent to live with her only relative in the UK. The girl’s uncle turns out to be the estranged Lord Craven (played by Colin Firth), who owns a gigantic estate with countless rooms, where the newcomer is strictly forbidden to enter. Bored and lonely, Mary wanders through the dreary surroundings and finds a carefully hidden garden. As she begins to explore it, the girl gradually changes and reveals the secrets of her family.


Screenwriter Jack Thorne significantly adjusted the original story. He moved the time frame forward, so the film takes place in 1947, when England is recovering from the war. He also deleted several minor characters and added a charming shaggy dog ​​wandering around the area.

But Thorne made the most changes to the overall meaning of the story, significantly softening the overall essence of the novel. Apparently, the new “The Secret Garden” is completely aimed at family viewing, so the screenwriter removed from it the uncomfortable theme of the lack of parental love for their child, which was clear from the first pages of the book.


The most interesting transformation of the film occurred with the hidden garden – its visual presentation turned into magical realism. Each plant in the mystery garden is incredibly graceful, colorful and unnaturally large, yet there is no obvious magic or, say, talking trees in the flora. The cameraman emphasizes the important connection with nature, creating the effect of being in the bush. As the main character rushes forward, the camera follows her, dodging the falling leaves. Shots in which fields with flowers appear, through which the characters run, looking at the glare of the sun, look especially good. It turns out very beautiful.

Footage with details of the English estate in which the main characters live is another notable plus of the film. Gloomy rooms filled with antiques, monumental staircases and wallpaper with patterns that come to life before your eyes – all this is done just perfectly.


It’s a shame that the main storyline isn’t always as impressive as the visuals. The filmmakers’ decision to soften the plot (of an already children’s book) turns the film adaptation of The Secret Garden into an ordinary, kindly naive story in which the essence of the transformation of the central character is lost. It seems that Jack Thorne is not the most successful author of plays about magic, and now also of adapted novels.

However, the lead actress, Dixie Egerix, conveys well the character of a spoiled child whose whims are overcome by curiosity. And the actors playing her young friends were chosen quite well. But there are very few Colin Firth and Julie Walters in the frame; they are an attraction for older audiences if they decide to go to the movies with children.


Overall, The Secret Garden is quite a beautiful and detailed film, thanks to which you can run through the field while sitting right in the cinema. The plot of the film has been softened for family viewing.

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