The Secret of Moonacre

February 6th, 2009


The Secret of Moonacre

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Still of Natascha McElhone and Ioan Gruffudd in The Secret of MoonacreThe Secret of MoonacreStill of Augustus Prew and Dakota Blue Richards in The Secret of MoonacreStill of Juliet Stevenson and Dakota Blue Richards in The Secret of MoonacreStill of Natascha McElhone in The Secret of Moonacre

When 13 year old Maria Merryweather's father dies, leaving her orphaned and homeless, she is forced to leave her luxurious London life to go and live with Sir Benjamin...

Release Year: 2008

Rating: 6.0/10 (3,163 voted)

Director: Gabor Csupo

Stars: Ioan Gruffudd, Dakota Blue Richards, Tim Curry

When 13 year old Maria Merryweather's father dies, leaving her orphaned and homeless, she is forced to leave her luxurious London life to go and live with Sir Benjamin, an eccentric uncle she didn't know she had, at the mysterious Moonacre Manor. Soon Maria finds herself in a crumbling moonlit world torn apart by the hatred of an ancient feud with the dark and sinister De Noir family. Maria discovers that she is the last Moon Princess and, guided by an unlikely mix of allies, she must overcome her family's pride in order to unearth the secrets of the past before the 5000th moon rises and Moonacre disappears into the sea forever.

Writers: Lucy Shuttleworth, Graham Alborough

Dakota Blue Richards - Maria Merryweather
Juliet Stevenson - Miss Heliotrope
Tim Curry - Coeur De Noir
Tamás Tóth - Vicar
Augustus Prew - Robin De Noir
György Szathmári - Lawyer (as György Szatmari)
Natascha McElhone - Loveday
Ioan Gruffudd - Sir Benjamin Merryweather / Sir Wrolf Merryweather
George Mendel - Priest (as György Mendel)
Michael Webber - Digweed
Szabolcs Csák - Henry
Lurko - Wrolf the Dog
Zoltán Markovits - David
Marcell Tóth - Richard
Zoltán Barabás Kis - Dulac (as Zoltán Barabás Kiss)

Taglines: A magical adventure for all the family!


Official Website: Official site | Official site [France] |

Release Date: 6 February 2009

Filming Locations: Budapest, Hungary

Box Office Details

Budget: $12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: £308,099 (UK) (8 February 2009) (363 Screens)

Gross: £944,197 (UK) (10 May 2009)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

It had been arranged for a real lion to be used in filming, and to be dyed black. However the insurance costs required for filming actors with a real lion were astronomical, so a digital lion was a much cheaper option.

Loveday: You don't understand, do you?
Maria Merryweather: I'm starting to understand one thing. The real curse of this valley is pride.

User Review

Poor in terms of story

Rating: 5/10

Imagine, if you will, the Story Warehouse. This is where storytellers collect the various bits and pieces which they then assemble into stories. We go past the Romance and Horror sections and arrive at Magic, where we find the shelves fairly empty. Some items are always in stock - you can always pick up Orphaned Child Sent To Live In Run-Down Old House Where Strange Things Happen With No Explanation, for instance, and there's never any shortage of Slightly Sinister Patriarch Figure Who Flies Into Rage For No Good Reason And Won't Answer Questions, or Quirky Manservant With Fantastic Abilities (I'll take two, please). The Magic Lions section was pretty much cleaned out by CS Lewis for the Narnia stories, of course, although it appears that he didn't have much call for Magic Lion (Black Fur) or Magic Lion (Disguised As Big Dog).

And that is the problem with The Secret Of Moonacre - the story has a strong feeling of having been cobbled together from bits and pieces, and those bits and pieces are either overly familiar - Ioan Gruffud's mysterious bad-tempered uncle is no stranger - or else simply not very good (clearly a great deal was left on the Moon shelves - we have Moon Pearls, Moon Princesses, Moonacre itself, the Moon coming down to destroy everything). Much which needs explaining is never explained, and the bits of the story simply don't fit very well together. It's as if by combining the legs from a flat-pack table and the carcase from a flat-pack kitchen unit you can make a sideboard. Well, yes, but I don't think I'd want it in my living room.

And this is a shame, because the look of the film is fine, as is Dakota Blue Richards. Gruffud and Tim Curry both deliver their cliché characters perfectly adequately, Juliet Stephenson is given a comedy nanny to play with rather uncomfortably, and Natasha McElhone looks wonderful and acts, at times, embarrassingly badly (she delivers a curse with a complete absence of menace, for instance. Clearly, cheekbones on their own are not enough).

I sometimes wonder why film producers still don't seem to understand that a solid story and script is the starting point for a successful movie.


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