A girl at a boarding school must become a servant after receiving news that her father has died. Kids still love the story of Sara Crewe more than a century after it was written.
Scenes of World War I trench warfare, including the sight of dead soldiers. The sudden appearance of the ten-headed demon Ravana can be startling. The only black character is a servant girl (who our hero befriends). The character of Ram Dass (the Indian manservant) has always been kind of a problem, but keep in mind that in the 1939 film version he was played by Cesar Romero.
Even snotty, two-face bullies like Lavinia are princesses
Gorgeously designed by three world-class visual stylists: director Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y Tu Mamá También), cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life, The New World), and art director Bo Welch (Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns)—Lubezki and Welch were nominated for Academy Awards for the film. This telling leans hard on the novel’s Indian elements; here the stories Sara shares with the other girls are not her own, but rather tales from the Ramayana. The other key change from the book is the fate of Sara’s father (which is closer to the Shirley Temple film version). But Sara still shines as a model of holding on to your sense of self no matter how others might treat you. —