Frances Hodgson Burnett's much-loved children's novel could all too easily come across on screen as the last word in period fustian, but the unforced approach of Holland and scriptwriter Caroline Thompson pierces to the emotional core of a still potent tale. Shipped back from colonial India to the inhospitable Yorkshire manor of her reclusive hunchback uncle (Lynch), orphan Mary Lennox (newcomer Maberly) tangles petulantly with the no-nonsense housekeeper (Smith). Even so, the spoilt girl's rebelliousness soon distils into a recuperative influence over her bedridden cousin Colin (Prowse) when she begins to tend the long-neglected walled garden tucked away in the grounds. With well-judged performances played straight, and topical subtexts (Green consciousness, the dysfunctional family), this 'children's' film sets no age limit on its potential audience.
Cast and crew