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And All Was Right With the World

Beasts of the Southern Wild Writer Teams with del Toro for The Secret Garden

Here’s some news you weren’t expecting: Universal Pictures just called dibs on a new adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett‘s The Secret Garden, written by Lucy Alibar and produced by Guillermo del Toro.

So on the one hand, I’m getting a little worried about Guillermo del Toro’s work schedule, but on the other, this project seems a perfect fit for the inclinations of all involved.

Lucy Alibar, as mentioned in the title, is one of the cowriters of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and superficially Beasts, Secret Garden, and Pan’s Labyrinth are not dissimilar, all featuring an independent, adventurous little girls whose stories largely take place in an isolated patch of wildness and in some cases magic surrounded by a more mundane, adult world. Even not superficially, they’re all stories about children dealing with the absence or loss of a parent and the fallout of having independence thrust on them earlier than they might be ready for it.

Beyond that, I can’t be the only kid who found lots of The Secret Garden to be tense, frightening, and full of things that are especially scary for little kids: being left alone, realizing that adults are lying to you, discovering a secret that no one wanted to talk about. Even if The Secret Garden lacks any clear manifestations of the supernatural (though the book certainly had enough Biblical allusions), there’s a lot there for del Toro and Alibar to work with.

There is no word yet on who will direct the adaptation, but Deadline says “word around town” is that the movie will be reset in the American South around the year 1900, not a huge jump in time from the novel’s original setting, but a relocation that I could see bearing very interesting fruit. Considering the importance of the interaction between Mary Lennox and the various servants and servants families of Misselthwaite Manor to The Secret Garden, it would be a huge stretch for this version of the novel to not address race and class differences of that setting.

(via Deadline.)

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  • Mieko Gavia

    I’m so excited for this!!!

  • Joseph Finn

    So sadly, not the Marsha Norman musical?

  • jedi_penguin

    My first thought was ANOTHER Secret Garden remake?!? In addition to the ten or so out there already? Really? But moving the narrative to the American South opens up some interesting new angles for this story. I’ll be keeping an open mind on this one.

  • Anonymous

    I WOULD really like to see this with del Toro style…

  • Mandy

    They pretty much had me at del Toro & Secret Garden but then I saw the setting move to the American South and thought who do I start throwing money at?! As a southern can I say fuck yes! As amazing as the previous movie AND musical are, make this movie happen asap!

  • Anonymous

    Second that!

  • Brian

    As with any Del Toro project, I’ll save my excitement for when they start filming. This guy starts and stops more than… I don’t know, some clever analogy.

  • Anonymous

    omg omg omg omg!!!! Secret Garden WAS my childhood. And this writer and this producer, wow, i couldn’t have asked for better people to write it!

  • Anonymous

    It’s a happy, optimistic book about children learning to enjoy life and the outdoors rather than moping around the house. I loved Pan’s Labyrinth and liked Beasts of the Southern Wild, but The Secret Garden doesn’t have much in common with them.

    It doesn’t strike me as really del Toro’s oeuvre. I hope he doesn’t mess with it too much.

  • Laura Truxillo

    I’m not thrilled with the idea of moving it to the US–it was such a quintessentially ENGLISH sort of book (also, we really don’t have moors for the winds to wuther around)–but del Toro on this project? Oh my yes.

    And you’re certainly not the only one who found it frightening. C’mon, night in a big, strange house, it’s dark, you’re alone, and you hear faint crying and wailing? That is TERRIFYING. The first time I read it, I thought it was a ghost story until she met Colin.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Good point. I still want my Haunter Mansion, dangit?

  • Bridget

    I feel VERY uncertain about this. The 1993 version was already pretty much perfection. I was curious at first to see del Toro’s name attached to this, but moving the setting to the American South leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. I’m wary. (That said, I did enjoy Cuaron’s Little Princess, which was also moved to America.)

  • Troy Dailey

    Yeah, I have to agree…..I think that the book had enough angles and allusions already. Not everything has to be about us. We loved it already.