Frances Hodgson Burnett's Little Princess was one of my favorite books when I was young (along with The Secret Garden) and while I enjoyed the sugar-coated and rather unrealistic Shirley Temple version, it didn't much follow the actual story. When my friend Kyrai did a film discussion on a newer adaptation of A Little Princess for her women's group, I was thrilled to find such a well-done portrayal!
It's now on our "girl list," the things Zoe and I watch together while Daddy and the boys are off doing their thing, which include movies like Sarah Plain and Tall, Little Women, Flyaway Home, Anne of Green Gables, My Fair Lady, Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, Sound of Music and National Velvet. They're like chick-flix-in-training. It makes for a perfect fall weekend morning, me and my daughter on the bed with the doggies keeping our feet warm and a heartwarming, tearjerking movie on the television.
My favorite part of this particular movie comes when Miss Minchin confronts little Sara Crewe about "telling stories" to the other girls. This is after Sara's father has been reported dead in the war and she's lost everything and has been relegated to servant status and is living in the attic of the girls' school.
Miss Minchin: "It's time you learn that real life has nothing to do with your little fantasy games. It's a cruel , nasty world out there and it's our duty to make the best of it--not to indulge in ridiculous dreams, but to be productive and useful. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
Sara: "Yes, ma'am."
Miss Minchin: "Good!"
Sara: "But I don't believe in it."
Miss Minchin: "Don't tell me you still fancy yourself a princess? Good God, child, look around you! Or better yet, look in a mirror."
Sara: "I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics, even if they dress in rags. Even if they're not pretty, or smart, or young. They're still princesses. All of us. Didn't your father ever tell you that? Didn't he?"
This morning, Zoe took her thumb out of her mouth (she still sucks her thumb at home, when she's sleepy or when she's watching TV) looked up at me and asked, "How come Miss Minchin's daddy didn't tell her that all girls are princesses?"
"I don't know, sweetie."
"Didn't her daddy like her?"
"I don't know."
"I wish she had a good daddy like mine."
I was wishing Michael could hear her. "Me, too."
"She'd feel better."
"I think so."
"Every girl should have a daddy who tells her she's a princess."
"Yes, they should."
See why I love these movies?