Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Secret Garden

I remember that, one day when I was younger, my great-grandmother took me to see the movie The Secret Garden in a theatre near her house in Palm Springs. I seem to remember it being a rather small theatre—certainly much less grandiose than the monolithic cinemas we are surrounded by today—and that you had to walk through a small, lattice, ivy-laced archway and into a simple portico to get to the theatre’s front door. I have no idea if this description of the theatre even remotely resembles the truth about the place; it’s just what I envision now, for whatever reason.

If I recall, I believe I stayed the night at my great-grandmother’s house the night before, and she had explained that this was going to be our plan for the next day.

For some completely inexplicable reason, I simply knew that The Secret Garden was going to become my favorite movie. I think I may have even told my great-grandmother this. I was, of course, very excited the night before, to be going to see my favorite movie for the first time.

I have no idea why I had simply decided that this movie was going to be my favorite. I knew nothing of the story at the time. I hadn’t read the book – probably, at the time, I didn’t even know it was based on a book.

But I was eight years old. So of course I was excited; of course I could predict the future.

I think something about the idea of a magical garden appealed to me. Though I had not yet seen enough of the world or of the forest or of trees to realize how intimately spiritual they can be, still, I think that somehow I was vaguely aware that plant life had some sort of near-magical quality to it that was worth pondering, and certainly worth making a movie about.

So The Secret Garden was going to be my favorite movie, and that was the end of it.

The big day came, and we saw the movie. I remember liking every moment that the main characters were in the garden—the “secret” garden—exploring, wandering, giving in to its magic. And I thought Colin seemed like a rather interesting person, someone I might even like to know, even though he was quite grumpy at first.

Once the movie ended, however, I remember thinking that the whole movie felt like it was leading up to this surreal (a word I, no doubt, did not know at the time) climax (another word I did not know), but that it sort of just fizzled out. (Did I know “fizzle” then? – probably not.) There was something about a fire towards the end, I believe. (Or was that fire in the beginning? Now I seem to recall the movie pretty much starting with a fire…)

Anymore, though, I can’t remember a single other thing about the climax or the ending. Also, I remember that I thought most every moment of movie outside of the garden was actually kind of flat. (I don’t think that, at the time, I’d have considered using the word “flat” synonymously with “boring” – movie scenes are not deflated balls, after all.)

But I had already decided that The Secret Garden was going to be my favorite movie; there was no changing that now.

I don’t remember what we did after we left the theatre—back across the patio, back through the lattice archway—but I believe that at some point before we even returned to my great-grandmother’s house, I had to admit that, actually, The Secret Garden was probably my second favorite movie. I mean, sure, it was a great movie, but it wasn’t actually the very best. There was, after all, Jurassic Park, which came out two months previously and which I saw a total of seven times in the theatre. (Was it really seven whole times? I say that number now, but actually I really can’t say if this number is exactly true. It was certainly several times, at the very least.)

I only saw The Secret Garden once in the theatre. In fact, I’ve only seen The Secret Garden once ever.

I can’t say precisely how long I continued to say that The Secret Garden was my second favorite movie, but I’d be surprised to find out that it was longer than a week, two at most.

How could I possibly have known that my prediction of the future would be wrong? I was a mighty eight years old, after all. I knew everything else.


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