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Tom's Midnight Garden

Tom's Midnight Garden title card

Year - 1999
Studio - BS24, Hyperion Pictures
Stars - Anthony Way, Greta Scacchi, James Wilby, Laurel Melsom, Florence Hoath, Caroline Carver, Joan Plowright
Director - Willard Carroll
Writing Credits - Willard Carroll (screenplay), Phillipa Pearce (screenplay)
Music - Debbie Wiseman

Synopsis

Young Tom Long (Anthony Way) is sent to stay with his aunt Gwen (Greta Scacchi) and uncle Alan (James Wilby), while his younger brother convalesces at home with the measles.They live in a once-stately mansion, now divided up into apartments. Tom is disappointed to find that there is no garden for him to play in, only unsightly rubbish bins in back. There is, however, a majestic, ancient grandfather clock in the main lobby. In his bed at midnight, he hears the clock chime thirteen times and he goes to investigate in his pajamas.

He discovers that the lobby has been transformed, with beautiful old furniture, paintings, and antique decor. A uniformed maid enters and, to his astonishment, walks right through his body. Opening the back door, he discover, in full daylight, a lush garden, with bright flowers and magnificent bushes, shrubs and hedgerows.Tom joyfully runs through the garden, and then encounters several young children playing, but they apparently are unable to see him. A somber little girl, Hatty (Laurel Melsom), is taunted by three young boys, her cousins. When Tom returns to the house, the lobby transforms back to its plain appearance, before his eyes. Although he thought he'd been in the garden for hours, he discovers that it was actually only for a matter of minutes. The next midnight, Tom returns to the garden, but this time little Hatty looks right at him and says that she's seen him all along. The two play in the garden together and, as Tom returns every evening, become very close playmates.

Toms Midnight Garden poster

As the two continue their secret relationship over the next few weeks, Hatty grows older (played by Florence Hoath at age 12, and by Caroline Carver, as a young woman). She tells Tom that, while he experiences his visits on a nightly basis, from her perspective, there are many months between his visits.

Finally, now a young woman, Hatty falls in love with a man, "Barty" (Daniel Betts) and is no longer able to see or hear Tom, much to his anguish. He makes one final midnight attempt to go to her but, upon opening the door and calling out "Hatty!", he falls among the rubbish bins. The midnight garden is no longer there. The next morning, uncle Alan says that one of the building tenants, Mrs. Bartholomew, is asking that Tom come to her room to apologize for disturbing her sleep. Tom agrees and goes to the old woman's apartment. She reveals to him that she is the widow of "Barty", that she, indeed, is Hatty. They reminisce about all times in the garden, and fondly recall the initials they carved together in one of the old trees.

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The time travel in Tom's Midnight Garden is similar to that of Portrait of Jennie, where Jennie/Hattie grows much older with each succeeding visit by Tom/Ethan.