A Little Princess, starring Shirley Temple:
This is the video version of A Little Princess that I grew up with. It’s a classic Shirley Temple movie. Though built around the original story, it is not faithful to the book but it’s charming anyway (it is Shirley Temple after all). For example, Sara (aka Shirley) is friends with Rose, a young teacher at the boarding school (not in the book), and Rose falls in love with the riding teacher (not in the books), and Miss Minchin kicks Rose out for getting engaged (obviously not in the books since Rose wasn’t in the books), etc. My pet peeve as I got older (and read the book) was that Sara’s father was still alive (he’s not in the books). Still, their reunion is sweet, and I loved it when I was younger. There’s nothing objectionable in this film.
A Little Princess, staring Liesel Matthews:
This was my second foray into the world of Little Princess movies. I had just read the book and realized that the Shirley Temple version did the story wrong, so I decided to see if the library carried a different version. (I was hoping to find one where Dad actually died and his friend rescued Sara.) This movie is a bit more accurate. The old man next door at least plays a part in Sara’s happily ever after. Miss Amelia (Miss Minchin’s sister), is particularly funny in this movie. And Becky is so sweet. My one complaint/warning about this film is that the Buddhist/Hindu culture Sara was raised in (she grew up in India) came through much more in this film than in others.
A Little Princess, staring Amelia Shankley
This version of The Little Princess is my most recent discovery, my favorite movie rendition of the story, and (not surprisingly!) the most accurate to the book. It was originally created for PBS and the film quality is similar to classic BBC films. It still does not adhere 100% to the books, but it comes about as close as a movie rendition can (and, yes, her father dies, and it’s his friend who finally rescues Sara from her life of drudgery). If you can get your hands on it, this is definitely the version I recommend. You’ll probably want to check with your library, though. Used copies on Amazon start at $75.
What’s your favorite movie version of A Little Princess? Did I miss any of them?