The Secret of Moonacre (2008)

“When 13-year-old Maria Merryweather’s father dies, leaving her orphaned and homeless, she is forced to leave her luxurious London life to go and live with Sir Benjamin, an eccentric uncle she didn’t know she had, at the mysterious Moonacre Manor… Maria discovers that she is the last Moon Princess and, guided by an unlikely mix of allies, she must overcome her family’s pride in order to unearth the secrets of the past before the 5000th moon rises and Moonacre disappears into the sea forever”

– Monica Penders, IMDB.

The Secret of Moonacre is based on the 1946 novel The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, which was the favourite childhood book of J.K. Rowling. The film was directed by Gabor Csupo, a Hungarian animator/director who co-founded the animation studio Klasky Csupo with his then wife Arlene Klasky. Klasky Csupo is responsible for Rugrats, The Wild Thornberry’s, and Ahh! Real Monsters. The Secret of Moonacre is Csupo’s second live action film, the first being Bridge to Terebithia. The name of the movie was chosen by an internet poll with fans being able to vote for either The Secret of Moonacre or The Moon Princess.

Some thoughts from me (Potential spoilers below)…

In a first for the movies that have graced this blog, The Secret of Moonacre is a film that I watched and thought “I would’ve loved this as a kid”. My favourite films tend to have a bit of an escapist vibe to them, which Secret of Moonacre has in spades. There’s also some very nice costume design (Maria in particular wears some really interesting looking gowns). Overall, the movie and effects look alright, and the plot isn’t too terrible. And it’s got Tim Curry in it, so that’s worth about 10 points alone.

So why is it on this blog? Well it’s got a bit of a weirdness to it. There’s this whole ‘end of days’ vibe to the film, with Moonacre valley under threat of destruction… except how the movie portrays this it seems more like the entire world is in danger, what with the rather large moon coming closer and closer to touching down. If the Unicorn and demonic black lion on the front cover didn’t give you a hint, the movie hinges on a sort of magical maguffin being found. You’d think that there might be conflict between the people who believe in magic, and those that don’t. While that does somewhat come up in the film, for the most part everyone is very accepting in the fact that magic exists. Or maybe they knew all along and just didn’t care? It’s hard to get a bead on what ‘normal’ is for the residents of Moonacre.

I actually debated if this movie should be shown at my Bad Princess Movie Night because it’s not ‘so bad it’s good’, and it does have some stretches of dullness. I took a gamble and showed it, and thankfully everyone enjoyed this one (In fact, some got genuinely invested in the film just as I did). So this is one I can tentatively recommend for a Bad Princess Movie Night, just don’t expect a laugh-a-minute experience with this one.

References

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