The Secret of Moonacre
The Secret of Moonacre is a 2008 girly fantasy movie aimed at young girls who like jewelry and horses. It’s based on a book by Elizabeth Goudge called The Little White Horse. Now while I like jewelry and horses, I admit I’m not the target demographic. However this movie knows who it’s aiming at and there is Tim Curry in it so it’s not all bad. Also I’m really trying to resist making a Sailor Moon joke.
Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather & Natascha McElhone as Loveday de Noir
Movie starts off with a newly Orphan tween girl Maria getting a historic book and then sent off to the country to live with her uncle in a manor house that is falling apart, though she gets an awesome bedroom, seriously it’s magical. Maria soon learns that her family, The Merryweathers, have an ancient grudge with a rival family, the De Noir. It started when one of the daughter of De Noir was given a necklace of pearls by the moon. She was about to marry a Merryweather but the family fought over the pearls so she put a curse on them, that if the pearls were not returned to the sea before the 5000th moon by another Moon Princess who is pure of heart then the valley would be plunged into eternal darkness. So Maria has to race against the full moon to save the valley from the two families pride.
Natascha McElhone as The Moon Princess & Ioan Gruffudd as Sir Wrolf Merryweather
In this movie a “moon princess” is marked by the fact that she can see a magical white horse, so that and the fact the whole plot boils down to pearls, mixed in some pretty costumes with nice sets and you have a movie that six to ten years old will love. But there is something a bit more going on here than just little girl wish fulfillment.
There is a proverb that goes “Pride comes before the fall” meaning that overconfidences leads to destruction and that is very overtly what is happening in the movie. Everyone’s pride gets in the way of ending the feud between the two families and they are willing to let their valley get destroyed because of their pride. It is only fixed when Maria actually throws herself into the sea so the pearls can be return that they let their pride go.
To most adults this moral is very much a slap in the face but it’s not that bad for children. It addressed to them in a easy to understand manner.
Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather, Juliet Stevenson as Miss Heliotrope, Michael Webber as Digweed and Andy Linden as Marmaduke Scarlet
So what are the character like? They are not very interesting or deep. I would say Maria doesn’t have much of a personality as she is nice and curious but her curiosity is the result of a weird house and getting the plot to move forward. Probably the most interesting characters are Loveday, what a name, and her brother, Robin.
Loveday is interesting because she a weird bohemian that lives in the woods and her pride is a weird combination shyness and a broken heart. She also keeps a lot of animals in her dwelling. Robin is really the only character who seems to get a slight arc as he starts off as a bad guy but helps Maria out and even seems to like her romantically a little bit.
Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather & Augustus Prew as Robin de Noir
The style of this movie has a very shabby chic dreamy and for lack of a better description fairy tale. The shabbiness of the house is a plot point but it does add some interest however there are some very weird style choices. For instance all the costume have weird textures to them that sometimes look cool but mostly it looks awkward. Like Maria’s bustles that look like shelves, most of Loveday’s costumes and Robin’s feather chocker where the feathers look like spikes. There is a nice organic look to the costumes but mostly they look unpleasant. Though I want Maria’s saturn necklace.
The acting is what you would expect for a movie aimed at little girls. It’s cheesy and over the top but it’s serviceable. No one here is out to win any awards but they do their best with the material.
Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather & Ioan Gruffudd as Sir Benjamin Merryweather
The Secret of Moonacre is perfectly adequate children fantasy movie. It spelled out a moral with cute and pretty things and if you need more than that this movie isn’t really for you.