The 1993 film version of "the Secret Garden", directed by Agnieszka Holland, stared a cast of relative unknowns (save for Maggie Smith). The movie was filmed on location in London and stays more or less faithful to the book.
The movie is visually stunning. The house, Craven Manor, the gardens and the moors are shot in vivid colour and detail. Great attention is paid to the look of the film, in creating a larger than life feel to the gardens, drawing the viewer into the film. To that effect, the sound of the film is amazing. Not the score, the background noise of the scenes. A fire crackling, doors creaking, wind blowing through leaves, a child's wails in the night. The atmosphere to the film is wonderful.
The Secret Garden isn't just a film for children, it's a film about children. The children in the movie (as in the book), Mary and Colin, are self-centred, arrogant, certain, scared, obsessive, determined, curious: everything that 10-year-olds are. There are two scenes in the movie that, to me, emphasize this.
The second scene is in the garden for a midnight bonfire, the children having snuck out when they were supposedly locked in their rooms. Colin starts chanting nonsense words while dancing around the fire, which the others mimic, asking the "magic" (the whole story of the magic wasn't defined in the movie, but was well belaboured in the book) to send his father back to the manor. How many children haven't played at making up their own imaginary magic world, that only children can see?
The acting was great. Maggie Smith was, as always, magnificent in her role as the stern and overbearing authority figure of the housekeeper Mrs. Medlock. The part is played so well that you can't exactly like the character, but you understand her. The roles of the children are realistic and very well done. The very small supporting cast is charming.
Midway through the story, Mary dreams of her dead mother in the garden, "and the garden was a jungle". The dream-Mary was a toddler, and when her mother ran off, abandoning her in the garden, the little girl's face crumpled and she quietly started sobbing for her mother. Everything changes, and we have to change with it. It's a part of growing up.