There have been several adaptations (for the big and small screen) of "The Secret Garden", based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This version was released in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic. It was directed by Marc Munden with Julie Walters and Colin Firth as the main adult cast, and Dixie Egerickx as the main protagonist. The film score was composed by Dario Marianelli who is known for film scores such as Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Anna Karenina, and Darkest Hour and who scored the CGI/live action adaptation of Pinocchio in 2019 which starred Roberto Benigni as Geppetto. For "The Secret Garden" Marianelli has gone for a particular palette of orchestral colours, and a set of thematic elements which define the score. We hear some of these colours and elements from the very first track "A Lost Girl", which starts mysteriously on harp to be joined by some eerie wind chimes before the main theme is introduced on piano. "Mary Ditches Her Doll" builds on this initial palette with an alternating 2-tone figure over the now-familiar chiming sound. A melody grows on strings, to be joined by woodwind before the track returns to its initial 2-tone figure and chimes, and a flute then weaves some closing magic.
"Arrival At The Estate" turns darker and ominous, but this strange and unsettling experienced is soon normalised with some of the earlier elements, and fluttering woodwind then hints at the magic that is to come. "A Walk In The Night" is mystical and atmopheric, with the wind chimes gaining some prominence. "Skipping Rope" returns to the alternating 2-tone figure which again leads on to some chimes and harp, before the piano plays a longer version of the mysterious main theme. The mood changes completely in "Dog Happiness" which features a playful clarinet joined by pizzicato then bowed strings which from a hesitant start all evolve into some totally carefree playfulness, as though lost in adventure before the clarinet returns to close the track. The darker start of "Climbing the Wall" suggest a journey into the unknown, but then brightening up with the main theme as a new world is revealed. Then as we enter "The Garden" there is a mysterious uncertain harp with more wind-chimes, but we feel a greater confidence opening up on a voyage of discovery, with more mystery and wonder. When the woodwind enter they seem to take their cue from Ravel's Daphnis and Chloé, as we fall into a dreamy state.
The score continues to construct the adventure with these established building bricks, bringing them together in different combinations. The mood changes subtly from track to track as new discoveries unfold, and there is always new musical interest along the way. "Dikon" sees a version of the main theme almost drowned out by clashing discordant chimes before a flute manages to rise above the noise and introduce some calm. "Kidnapping Colin" starts on pizzicato and then staccato strings, and things turn darker and more mysterious with unusual string scoring, until things brighten. "The Hidden Letters" has a familiar feel initially until some "Zadok the Priest" string arpeggios stir things up. There are some darker moments in the latter half of the score, which seems to reach a climax in "The Fire" and "Healing" with the former's insistent beat, and the ensuing orchestral tutti now features some brass, until some degree of peace settles and we hear remnants of thematic ideas. "The Healing" brings back the solo clarinet over tremolo strings, and modified restatements of earlier ideas build to an excited conclusion before the coda of "Garden Lullaby" which turns the mystery of the opening track into something much more comforting.
The song track "The Secret Garden" has an extended introduction whose mysterious tone fits well with the main score, before Aurora's voice joins and delivers a dreamy pop folk song. Marianelli's score is mysterious and magical and takes us on an exciting journey of discovery. The Secret Garden album is available to stream and download from these links at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.