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The Secret Life of Bees

4.6 out of 5 stars 512 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, based on the New York Times best selling novel and set in South Carolina in 1964, is the moving tale of Lily Owens (Fanning) a 14 year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother (Burton). To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father (Bettany), Lily flees with Rosaleen (Hudson), her caregiver and only friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters (Latifah, Okonedo and Keys), Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping, honey and the Black Madonna.


Headed by an all-star cast of women, The Secret Life of Bees is the heartwarming and well-told story of a young girl who finds love and acceptance from a trio of independent sisters. The Secret Life of Bees is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Sue Monk Kidd and centers around the plight of 14-year-old Lily (Dakota Fanning). Assuming the burden for her mother's premature death, she has a precarious relationship with her abusive father T. Ray (Paul Bettany). Lily's only friend is her caregiver Rosaleen (Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson). Set in South Carolina in 1964, when civil rights wasn't a given, Rosaleen's life is threatened by racists who'd just as soon see her dead than exercise her right to vote. Lily runs away with her to a town she believes may hold the secrets of her mother's life. There the pair meet the Boatwright sisters August (Queen Latifah), June (Alicia Keys) and May (Sophie Okonedo)--who produce the area's famous Black Madonna honey. They eventually provide Lily with the unconditional love she never felt she had and also show Rosaleen that being a black woman in the South doesn't mean she can't have a sense of worth. The Secret Life of Bees doesn't try to pass itself off as a historical documentation of race relations in the 1960s. But the fictional slice of life still resonates because of the feelings of injustice that it stirs up. Though the film is written to show the disparity between blacks and whites, there is always a strong sense of hope, thanks to the lead actresses who bring empathy and dignity to their roles. Hudson exhibits some of the same quiet grace that Regina Taylor brought to her role as the family housekeeper in the superb TV series I'll Fly Away. Latifah has the part of wise matriarch down pat, even when she's playing a sister rather than a mother. And it's clear that Fanning is making a seamless transition from kid to young adult roles. Whether she's giving an impassioned monologue or listening thoughtfully, Fanning brings nuance and intelligence to her role. --Jae-Ha Kim

Stills from The Secret Life of Bees (Click for larger image)


Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo
  • Directors: Gina Prince-Bythewood
  • Writers: Gina Prince-Bythewood, Sue Monk Kidd
  • Producers: Aldric La'auli Porter, Ed Cathell III, Ewan Leslie, Jada Pinkett Smith, James Lassiter
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround), French (Dolby Surround), Spanish (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • DVD Release Date: February 3, 2009
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (512 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001NLJ3NU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,388 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Secret Life of Bees" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is the best movie I have seen in a long time. I think I had tears in my eyes through 75% of the movie. This is Dakota Fanning's best performance. Jennifer Hudson was spectacular. Queen Latifah delivered like never before. Everyone was amazing in this film. Don't waste your time renting this one because it's one to own. You really connect with the characters and the issues at hand. This is a must see movie.
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Format: DVD
I bought and watched this film based on the strong recommendation of a friend. My wife and I both loved this movie. It is a slippery slope sometimes in telling a tale about the civil rights era, to not seem condescending or self righteous and still show the social evil of what some Americans held as justified truths and actions.

"The Secret Life of Bees" is one of those rare stories that shows the lines of prejudice go both ways and also the lines of goodness and kindness. "The Secret Life of Bees" is not so much a story about black and white people in the south in the `60s, as it is a story about love and redemption set with a backdrop of changing social mores of the civil rights movement.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the performances in this film by all the major players are for all measurable purposes flawless. Alicia Keyes was a surprise (it shouldn't have been) as the "Angry Black Intellectual Woman" and Latifa was wonderful as the matriarchal sister who brings wisdom and peace to several tortured souls. Dakota Fanning, shows that changing from a child to a teen doesn't take away from the fact that she is one of the hardest working and most effective actresses in the business.

If you are in the mood for an excellent drama "The Secret Life of Bees" is a treasure.

The only watch out is there is some fairly violent hate crimes against a woman (Jennifer Hudson), as well as other violent acts which may make this inappropriate for pre-teens as well as some rough laguage.
8 Comments 22 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I read THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd about two years ago. I enjoyed the book very much because it nicely evoked a sense of place (the rural south, with its humidity, ramshackle houses, lush flora and fauna) and it also created very vivid characters. It also suffered from a couple of unlikely coincidences and sometimes a bit too much sentimentality. It didn't trust the power it had built up to successfully tug at our heartstrings and evoke tears without just a little bit of extra obvious manipulation. I found it brisk, involving reading but a little short of classic status.

The film is almost exactly the same. While I don't remember tiny details of the book, and thus no doubt there are some "key" scenes missing, the film is very faithful to the plot of the book and its characters. It captures both the strengths and weaknesses of the book quite well. Frankly, if you like (or love) the book, then you should be quite content with how it has been translated. If you are unfamiliar with the book, you should have some of the same reactions to the film as I described about the book above.

The story is set in 1964. 14-year-old Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) is a mature beyond her years girl in South Carolina. She carries a heavy burden. Ten years previously, while watching a fight between her mother and her abusive father, she accidentally fired a gun. The bullet killed her mother. Her mother, who was in the process of leaving her father and also, she fears, leaving her. This has left a hole in Lily, because she's torn between her fantasies of a loving mother that she has killed and a her fears that her mother was about to abandon her to her awful father.
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Format: DVD
I thought this was the best movie of 2008! It was SO GOOD! Granted I had some movies that I went to and watched over and over again, this one I only watched once but once I watched it I knew it would be a timeless classic. Don't rent this movie! Just buy it! It's SO GOOD!
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Format: Amazon Video
The Secret Life of Bees staring Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Sophie Okenedo and Alecia Keys..set in the 1960's in the south is about a young teenage girl (who happens to be white) who, in search of understanding and peace from an abusive father leaves her home with her nanny (played by Jennifer Hudson) to a town in Virginia where a local honey producer and entrepreneur(played by Queen Latifah)takes them in. I dont want to give away too much of the story,so I wont get into too many specifics. I loved this film! As an African American woman, its never easy to see remnants of a time that I often wished weren't true, but even in the midst of thecliche like moments of that "racialy charged situation" that always occurs in period pieces about the segregated south, arose another more poignant tale of courage,determination,forgiveness, acceptance and most importantly love!

Dakota Fanning still continues to intrigue me. She has this been-here-beforeness that is, to me, fascinating and I love watching her grow into a woman. Queen Latifah, who I have actually seen grown into a woman (from afar of course) has this calming spirit throughout the film that made this viewer feel at home whenever she spoke. Alecia Keys character was harder to warm up to but just as equally touched by her gradual (if inevitable) transformations. And the character of June played by Soke Okenedo was done brilliantly.

Money well spent! Thanks Amazon!
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Blu-Ray Disk won't play on BDPS550 player.
Make sure you downloaded and installed the latest version of firmware from the Blu Ray's manufacturer website.
Mar 17, 2009 by Dagnachew W. Medhin |  See all 4 posts
Another Song Fron The Movie
Does anyone know the 60's pop song the ladies are singing & dancing to in the kitchen? Break Up? Breaking Up?
Jul 14, 2009 by C. W. Diment |  See all 4 posts
A song from the movie
Bach - Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007/Prélude
Mp3: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001384IMY/
May 13, 2009 by M. Everett |  See all 2 posts
Secret Life of Bees--how come no Academy Award nominations?
No sex, no violence, no profanity, no Academy Award. The Academy does not award good wholesome movies , Akelah and the Bee was another great movie.
Feb 7, 2009 by Amazon Customer |  See all 10 posts
Why is the The Secret Life of Bees soundtrack (by Mark Isham) only... Be the first to reply
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