the secret garden remake

The Secret Garden will bloom once again. The Secret Garden remake is in the works, with Marc Munden (Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams) helming the “fantastical reimagining” of Frances Hodgson Burnett‘s classic children’s novel. And it already has the perfect, quintessentially British cast led by Colin Firth and Julie Walters.

Firth and Walters are set to star in The Secret Garden remake for Studiocanal and Heyday Films, according to Deadline. David Heyman, who is best known for steering the Harry Potter franchise, is producing.

But this won’t be The Secret Garden you recognize. Instead of being set in the Edwardian era in which it was first published, the script by Jack Thorne transports the story to 1947, on the eve of Partition of India and in the aftermath of World War II in Britain. This is an intriguing twist, since the beginning of the story sees Mary Lennox’s parents killed in a cholera epidemic, which leads to her being sent to live with her gloomy uncle Archibald Craven in the moors of Yorkshire, England. The Partition of India was marked by bloody and brutal riots in the aftermath of Britain relinquishing colonial rule and clumsily dividing the country into India and Pakistan. It’s a chaotic setting to kick off the story of a spoiled, wealthy girl who is suddenly thrust into the real world after the death of her parents, and will definitely make for a striking start to the movie. The 1993 feature film adaptation of The Secret Garden, which co-starred Maggie Smith in an BAFTA-nominated role, also upped the drama of Mary’s orphaning, killing her parents in an earthquake.

The Secret Garden begins principal photography Monday. In the announcement of the production start, Munden said:

“This is a fantastical reimagining of The Secret Garden. I can’t wait to explore it. It’s an opportunity to immerse ourselves in an uncanny and wondrous world, which will play to the imaginations of adults and children alike.”

After 10-year-old Mary (to be played by Genius star Dixie Egerickxis sent to live with her brooding uncle in the isolated Misselthwaite Manor, she begins to discover the secrets that her family and the vast grounds are hiding, including a sickly cousin named Colin (Edan HayhurstGenius) and a wild, walled-off garden. “Together, the two damaged, slightly misfit children heal each other — partly through their exposure to a wondrous secret garden, lost in the grounds of Misselthwaite Manor,” according to Deadline.

Walters will play Mrs. Medlock, the strict head housekeeper at Misselthwaite, while Firth will bring back familiar brooding skills (I’m expecting Mr. Darcy levels!) to play Archibald Craven.

I’m excited for a new take on The Secret Garden. I grew up loving Hodgson Burnett’s book, fascinated by the unlikable protagonist Mary Lennox, and its kid-friendly approach to Gothic Romance. I even had a pop-up book that was tied with the release of the 1993 movie! This is a timeless story that has had many great adaptations — I also recommend the web series, The Misselthwaite Archives — and this new reimagining sounds like a bold new take on an age-old story.

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