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The Original "Getting Real"

The Original "Getting Real"
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Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Secret Garden

What sheer beauty is Agnieszka Holland's 1993 version of Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden". The scenery, the gorgeous animals, the beautiful shots of flowers and the brilliant casting (right down to the Yorkshire accents - which are so often too exaggerated or missed completely in attempts at films about Yorkshire!) not to mention the brilliant adaptation of the script with it's wonderful, wonderful message all make it for me one of the most beautiful films ever.

This was the first book we read as a class when I first started Grammar School and I am ashamed to say I missed to much of its wonders at the age of 11. Now, though, its wonder shine through so clearly! The way in which it is the angst of adults which makes Colin remain ill, and Mary's absolute denial of his illness that gets him walking again is so apt. The way the garden comes alive in all its beauty and how it is necessary to discount all that has been taught and perceived in order to restore that beauty....right down to Mary's words about the universe being within our own so movingly true! The incredibly gifted actress Maggie Smith epitomises all that is confining and all that keeps people in their belief in illness and it takes a child's more powerful belief to throw her world into disarray but, by the end of the story, Maggie Smith's character is standing in awe.

From the book, I think this wonderful extract says so much about the whole nature of the story which was wasted upon me as an 11-year-old but what joy to understand it now!
One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands alone and throws one's head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one's heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun—which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so...And it was like that with Colin when he first saw and heard and felt the Springtime inside the four high walls of a hidden garden. That afternoon the whole world seemed to devote itself to being perfect and radiantly beautiful and kind to one boy. Perhaps out of pure heavenly goodness the spring came and crowned everything it possibly could into that one place.

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