Tuesday, March 05, 2019

A Little Princess (1995)

Who's in it?: Liesel Matthews (Air Force One), Eleanor Bron (Help!, Absolutely Fabulous), and Liam Cunningham (First Knight)

What's it about?: A young English girl named Sara (Matthews) enters an American boarding school when her father (Cunningham) goes to war. But her positive outlook is challenged when her dad is reported dead, his finances frozen, and the school's sour headmistress (Bron) changes Sara's status from privileged student to persecuted servant.

How is it?: This was my second time seeing this version of A Little Princess (there's a 1939 adaptation starring Shirley Temple that's also quite good). I watched it back in the day mostly because it was directed by Alfonso Cuarón, but also because it's based on a book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of the enjoyable gothic novel for children, The Secret Garden.

A Little Princess is absolutely lovely and I fell for it just as hard the second time. Sara is an amazing character who proves that her optimism and kindness are not tied to her circumstances. Some horrible things happen to her, but she's a source of light and warmth to everyone she meets. Especially other girls in the school who are struggling. Sara insists that all girls are princesses, which sounds trite and naive until it becomes clear that what she actually means is that all girls have value, even the ones causing her to suffer. It's a moving example of loving one's enemies and as soon as I finished it, I contacted my local bookstore to order a copy of the novel.

Rating: Five out of five hardy heroines.

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