A Little Princess

In this gem from the mid-90s, the young Sara Crewe is dropped off at an all-girls boarding school in New York when her father, a wealthy widower, sets off to fight for the British in World War I. Sara does her best to be a good student, but finds the domineering headmistress to be cold, demanding, and overly strict. Still, Sara tries to lighten the place up with her storytelling, engaging her schoolmates in adventurous romantic fantasies.

Just as things seem to be getting better, Sara is devastated to learn that her father has died in the war. On top of that, she’s been left penniless and in debt to the school’s headmistress, who quickly seizes Sara’s belongings and condemns her to work as a servant for the school to pay off the debt. Now alone and resigned to a broken bed in a dusty cold attic, Sara struggles to decide if the positive outlook she held before is still worth the effort.

In a sort of reverse-Cinderella (but keeping a happy ending), A Little Princess reminds us that while it’s easy to be positive, friendly, and confident when things are going well, it’s when things are dark and the outlook is bleak that the spirit is truly tested, and when the decision to remain confident and kind-hearted counts all the more.

Based on the classic children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett (author of The Secret Garden, which we recommended previously), A Little Princess is appropriate for the whole family.

Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Rated G
USCCB rating: A-I
97% on Rotten Tomatoes
IMDb Parents Guide