The 1995 version of A Little Princess was one of my favourite movies growing up, and I'm happy to say it's stood the test of time and is still lovely to watch now. I got an instant hit of nostalgia as soon as the opening chords of the theme played, and was drawn once again into Sara's story. Yep, I actually liked Sara in the movie (unlike in the book) - she's got a bit of spunk to her in this incarnation, and benefits from the removal of the endless praise she receives in the book.
One of my favourite parts of the movie is the score - I haven't heard it in so long but, as I already mentioned, it's instantly recognisable, effectively creating a magical, whimsical mood. The gorgeous cinematography is another highlight; there are some things that don't make a lot of sense in the story (like Sara happily dancing in the snow wearing nothing but a nightgown), but they sure are pretty. The acting is pretty good all round, and the script itself is remarkably faithful to the book, despite one or two rather drastic changes (spoilers ahead)...
Changes That Worked
- By placing the story at the outbreak of WWI, it gives Sara's father a stronger reason for sending her to school. The separation that hurts them both so much is not by choice.
- As I already said, Sara is a much more likable character. She's definitely not too perfect - she's downright "wicked" at times ("cursing" Lavinia and pranking Miss Minchin) - but these are some of her most triumphant moments, where her strong spirit shone through.
- The other girls at the school were also more likable. I love the way they put themselves at risk to get Sara's locket back for her - their friendship was touching.
- Sara treats Becky as an equal, they BOTH receive gifts from Ram Dass and in the end it even seems as though Sara's father adopts Becky.
- Which brings me to the biggest change - and the one that made me happiest: Sara's dad lives! I love happy endings.
- I don't get why the action was moved from England to America. It's not a big deal overall, I just thought it was pointless - and it weakened the story somewhat with regards to the neighbour/benefactor. The transformation of Captain Crewe's friend into an old man who loses his son at war wouldn't bother me in itself, except that as an American, it makes no sense for the boy to have gone to war at that stage. The US didn't enter WWI until 1917.
- I could have done without Miss Amelia's romance - I just thought it was a bit silly.
- Miss Minchin is almost too much of a biatch to start with - she doesn't quite suck up to Sara as much as she does in the books. Plus her reasons for hating her are much less apparent, making her character more two-dimensional.
- I missed the shopping scene with Captain Crewe and Sara, when they find Emily. I didn't like how it was the Captain who bought Emily himself, and named her, and even told Sara about how dolls come alive when we're not looking. In the book, she picks Emily, names her, and imagines that she's real - and it was one of the few things I liked about the little brat.