For the last couple of weeks I have been emotionally living with The Secret Garden. Three of us gals from Studio One will be directing the musical for the upcoming theatre season. I am doing my homework. Up until recently I had only seen a movie of it once. Now I have seen several movies and am reading the book. I am told the best film is the Margaret O’Brien and Dean Stockwell film from 1949. Since I could not order it from Netflix I ordered it from Amazon.
I have decided I love this story. It has so many layers of delicious emotions. When we first meet Mary she has an emotionless stoicism stemming from her lack of connection to her family. When we first meet her cousin Colin he has almost too much emotion. This emotion comes out in fits of tantrums and hysterics.
The beauty of this story is how Frances Hodgson Burnett develops each story arc like a beautiful flower opening up to the sun’s rays. And that’s really the point of the garden. As Mary learns to love and Colin grows stronger their lives are changed by being in the garden as it comes back to life. Mary, Colin, and the garden all bloom together.
The story of the father told in several movies come across very differently. Since I haven’t finished the book I am not sure where Mrs. Burnett is heading. I do have a couple of theories on why he avoids his son. One is that the boy’s eyes remind him of his wife and he cannot bear the sadness. Secondly the son was born at his wife’s death and part of Mr. Craven blames the child. And finally since he thinks the child will die, if he does not emotionally invest in him it will not hurt as much when he does die. But he still comes to the child’s room in the middle of the night and watches him. And we know that in his heart there is a tangle of emotions.
I am really looking forward to working on the musical because music adds its own emotional dimension. How sad that I had to be this old to discover this wonderful Secret Garden.