Advertisements

Tag Archive: Julie Walters


Review by C.J. Bunce

A new print edition of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel The Secret Garden is coming to bookstores next month, and its artistry and design could stand as the definitive version–a storybook that could be a new favorite for the next generation of readers.  Originally published in serial form for both adults and children in 1910, Burnett’s classic book of children forced to grow up in difficult times and the value of friendship to their growth was initially not so well-received.  Burnett would be better known for her novels Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Little Princess even years past her death, but over time The Secret Garden flourished to become a beloved favorite, frequently ranked high on British and American reading lists, including those of School Library Journal, the U.S. National Education Association, and the BBC.  The novel made its way into the public domain, and has been the subject of countless print editions, as well as plays, musicals, television features, and theatrical films.  Actors Dean Stockwell, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Glynis Johns, and Honor Blackman have all found roles in various adaptations of the book.  And soon another big-screen adaptation is coming your way from StudioCanal starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters.

Design studio MinaLima has partnered with Harper Design to release a truly beautiful version of The Secret Garden incorporating three-dimensional elements and hundreds of pieces of colorful line art and decorations.  A garden’s worth of vibrant flowers hug the footer numbers at the bottom of each page, colorful end papers adorn each new chapter, the off-white pages have an antiqued appearance, each chapter finds an old-fashioned stylized introductory letter, and pop-up images emphasize story elements.  It even includes a traditional paper doll, and cleverly folded paper gardens.  The 384-page hardcover features a gilded, textured cover, and tucked throughout the book are symbols and images found in Burnett’s sumptuous text.  The fifth in a series of children’s classics illustrated by MinaLima, including Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, The Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales, The Secret Garden is the pinnacle of these accurately self-described “lavishly illustrated” editions, finding a story that doesn’t require illustrations, but is enhanced so well by MinaLima’s application of them.  At two points in the story, letters are received via post by key characters, and instead of merely printing them in text as found in the original novel, the illustrators include two actual letters, designed as replicas, neatly folded just as you would have found real letters in the late 19th century, ready for readers to pull out and read as they move through the story.  That tactile experience will move readers young and old.

The style of artwork is suited to the story, combining British and Indian influences the young lead character Mary Lennox would have been familiar with, plus ink color choices and wallpapers similarly found in her era.  In this tale, Mary, an initially angry, “quite contrary” daughter of a British couple living in India that dies of cholera, finds herself nearly abandoned at a widowed uncle’s giant mansion back in England.  There she discovers the widower’s abandoned garden, and her relationships with three young people, an older girl and two boys, allow her to grow and move beyond her past.

Continue reading

Advertisements

   

Later this year classic characters from three well-known children’s stories will return in theatrical adaptations.   A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and friends will return in Christopher Robin.  Deja vu?  Don’t confuse this with last year’s film Goodbye, Christopher Robin, which starred Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, and Kelly Macdonald This new film actually features Winnie the Pooh and friends, along with a great cast of genre favorites: Ewan McGregor (Star Wars series, Brassed Off), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Doctor Who) and Hayley Atwell (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and voicing the classic characters, Jim Cummings (Pooh), Peter Capaldi (Rabbit), Toby Jones (Owl), and Brad Garrett (Eeyore).  The film is directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace).

The Grinch is back in a third major film incarnation from Dr. Seuss’s original book How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  This time Benedict Cumberbatch replaces the voice of the big Christmas baddie made famous by Boris Karloff in 1966 and reprised by Jim Carrey in 2000.  This version is titled Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.  This animated version incorporates current digital technology to provide a very modern looking update.  The trailer looks great.

And also for Christmas Mary Poppins is back in a sequel to the original 1964 classic that starred Julie Andrews as Mary and Dick Van Dyke as Bert the chimney sweep and bank president Mr. Dawes.  Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, The Huntsman: Winter’s War) takes on the lead role in Mary Poppins Returns, co-starring Meryl Streep (The Post), Colin Firth (The Kings’ Speech), Angela Lansbury (Murder, She Wrote), Emily Mortimer (Hugo, The Kid), David Warner (Tron, Time After Time), Ben Whishaw (James Bond franchise), Julie Walters (Harry Potter franchise), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana), and Dick Van Dyke, this time as Dawes, Jr.

Check out these previews for Christopher Robin, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, and Mary Poppins Returns:

Continue reading

Hollow Crown banner

I’ve come to the conclusion after watching literally thousands of movies that I don’t like straight drama.  I rarely enjoy it unless there is some genre component to reel me in.  Sometimes even genre actors don’t help, such as Doctor Who’s David Tennant and Arthur Darvill in the BBC series Broadchurch.  I don’t go to movies for portrayals of real life, no matter how good the portrayal is supposed to be.  The list of exceptions to my distaste for straight drama is probably pretty large because I am pretty open minded.  The genre hook could be tenuous but it must be there.

Of course the most celebrated dramatist of all time is William Shakespeare.  I love his comedies adapted to screen, particularly Kenneth Branagh’s costume drama Much Ado About Nothing.  I also love the history plays–again, costume drama–and especially the 1990s Henry V–again, Branagh’s version.  The genre hook is easy with his histories–historical fiction.  But take that drama into the present day, such as with Joss Whedon’s 2013 Much Ado About Nothing, and I could hardly be less interested in it.  Even with a bunch of genre actors in the cast.

Whishaw as Richard II

Historical drama in the form of four of Shakespeare’s history plays adapted to screen on the BBC in 2012 begin tomorrow in the States with The Hollow Crown on PBS’s Great Performances.  And better yet, they are staged in the historical period–not contemporary updates–and as a bonus they feature a host of genre actors.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: