#AnneReadAlong2017: Anne Adaptations

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Hello everyone!

I am super excited to be back with my much anticipated (at least for me) Anne Adaptations post as part of our #AnneReadAlong2017! What a fabulous journey Jackie and I have been on! We so appreciate all of you that have participated with us! 

Why adaptations?

  • I really enjoy film adaptations of novels. I think adaptations are valuable because they give us new ways of seeing characters and scenes.
  • I have to separate them enough to enjoy them both. For example, I love the Harry Potter books and the Harry Potter movies. But I can’t compare them without being disappointed. I have to enjoy them as separate but similar stories.

Anne of Green Gables is a classic, beloved novel that generations of young readers have loved and admired.  Naturally, there have been numerous adaptations of the timeless story. But I did not realize how many! 

First, a little historical background on Anne adaptations:

  • Anne books have been adapted for film, radio, stage, and online audiences in a variety of languages. There is even a manga series! I would love to see Anne of Green Gables: The Musical myself 🙂
  • The first Anne adaptation was made in 1919 as a black and white silent film. Unfortunately, none of it survives, making it a lost film.
  • There have been three animated adaptations of Anne (two movies and one episode of the Youtube series Bedtime Story).
  • All novels expect Anne of Ingleside had an adaptation of some kind based primarily on them. The most popular book to adapt is definitely Anne of Green Gables.
  • The most famous adapation is the 1985 Anne of Green Gables miniseries staring Megan Fellows and the newest adaptation is Anne with an E. I want to talk more specifically about both of those today.


Anne of Green Gables – 1985 miniseries
For me, this is the pinnacle of Anne adaptations. So many of the actors have become their characters for me. Megan Fellows is Anne. Jonathan Crombie is Gilbert. I love this adaptation because it is true to the story and emotions of the novel.

My first experience with this adaptation: I first saw this adaptation on VHS at my grandma’s house as a child. There were two VHS tapes because it was so long! My grandma and I love watching movies together. We still often go out to the movie theater together when we visit. But this was one of the first movies I remember watching with her. I have loved it ever since. My husband bought the DVD for me for Christmas a few years ago and I love it. Can’t wait to watch it with my children one day!

What stuck out this time: I watched the miniseries again recently and fell in love all over again. Most of all, I loved the scenery this time! I have been learning more about PEI and Montgomery sites from Sarah during this #AnneReadAlong2017, and I want to visit even more now! I was also struck by how young Anne and Gilbert are in this series. Since we are now on the 7th book in the series when they have been married for 15+ years and have a house full of children, I was surprised to see them so young again. 

Who I love in this adaptation: It’s hard to choose someone that I love most in this adaptation. I think everyone is so well done! I love Megan Fellows as Anne because she captures Anne’s imaginative and emotional personality. I love Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert because he is mischievous, handsome, and oh so darling. I love Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla because she is strict and no nonsense but also loves deeply. I love Richard Farnsworth as Matthew because he is perfectly soft spoken, loving, and hard working. And I love Patricia Hamilton as Rachel Lynde because she is fiesty, outspoken, and nosy. The characters come to life through the fabulous acting of these and the other members of the cast. I still picture most of the characters in the novels with the faces of these actors.

How do they portray Anne?: I absolutely love Megan Fellows as Anne. I think she does a fabulous job balancing Anne’s antics and drama with her imagination and determination to do well in everything. I love the way she gives Anne a positive outlook on life and a determination to succeed. I think Anne is such an optimistic and happy character so I love seeing her portrayed that way in this adaptation. 

Changes from book to film: Overall, this adaptation is quite true to the original story. We get a lot of the most memorable scenes like Anne’s first view of Green Gables with Matthew, breaking the slate over Gilbert’s head, Diana’s disastrous tea party, jumping on Aunt Josephine in the bed, and the “Lady of Shallot” boat scene. There are a few changes like how Matthew dies (which I actually prefer in the movie over the book because of the beautiful emotional bond between Anne and Matthew) and Anne’s eventual reconciliation with Gilbert. But overall, I love the way it brings Anne’s world to life.

Thoughts on the sequels: There are actually two sequels to this mini series — Anne of Avonlea and Anne: The Continuing Story. Anne of Avonlea combines some of the best stories from books 2-4 in the series in one film. But it leaves out Miss Lavendar & Echo Lodge and Phil & Patty’s Place which are some of my favorite people and places in the books. However, it has a mood and tone similar to the 1985 series so it’s worth seeing. The Continuing Story is connected to Anne in name only. It follows a completely made up story line involving WWII and Anne searching for Gilbert in Europe after he goes MIA. Honestly, I don’t really care for this one and find the characters, scenes, and drama all too intense for Anne. Plus, it’s not at all true to the time or tone of the books.


Anne with an E – Netflix series

My first experience with this adaptation: I watched this series when it came out on Netflix earlier this year. I was skeptical about it before I watched it, mostly because I love the 1985 miniseries so much. I knew it would give a different tone to the classic Anne tales. While I can appreciate seeing a different portrayal of the scenes, I did not like the overall tone or message of this adaptation.

What stuck out to me: This series pulls out any dark and troubling elements from Anne, even creating some dark moods that I don’t see in the series. Then it accentuates those negative elements in the episodes. Anne is haunted by her time in the orphanage and her time caring for other small children. We get several disturbing flashbacks where she remembers intensely dark experiences, some I couldn’t even watch. This is not Anne. Anne of Green Gables is hopeful, positive, optimistic, strong. It’s about a girl that rises above difficult circumstances and finds a home and family that she can strive with. The other thing that stuck out to me was the intensity. Everything was so intense. The emotions, the reactions, the way Anne talks. For me, it was too intense. It was like everyone was trying too hard. 

Who I love in this adaptation: I actually really loved Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert. He was thoughtful, strong willed, and loves Anne from the moment he sees her. I thought he was true to Gilbert’s character in the book and gave us a compelling portrayal of him. I also enjoyed R. H. Thomson as Matthew. He gives a different but equally strong portrayal of Anne’s quiet and loving confidant. I found Geraldine James to be sometimes compelling and sometimes too intense as Marilla. She jumps to conclusions with unnecessary anger and overly intense reactions (like with the missing brooch) but she also has beautiful moments when her love for Anne shines through. 

How do they portray Anne?: My big problem with this adaptation is that I don’t like Anne. I don’t like how she is portrayed. Anne is troubled. She seems to have depression and post traumatic stress disorder, and she is overly dramatic (awkward rather than endearing). I didn’t care for her focus on her difficult past and the way she seems to have no social abilities (talking about inappropriate things as though they are commonplace). Yes, Anne has difficult experiences in her past. But I prefer the adaptations that move forward from those experiences. Perhaps it was the script and perhaps it was Amybeth McNulty’s portrayal of Anne, but I felt she was over the top dramatic. For example, when she reads a poem out loud in class, it is awkward and too intense. 

Changes from book to film: There was a host of changes from the book as well. I think they added to the high intensity and negative mood of the adaptation. Gilbert gets a depressing backstory, Marilla becomes mean (rather than just strict and a bit uptight), and Green Gables is in serious trouble requiring boarders and a mysterious dramatic irony subplot. I didn’t care for these changes. They took the adaptation away from the novel in ways I didn’t enjoy or appreciate. I am not sure if I will watch further seasons. But if I do, I will have to not compare this series to the original novels because I will only be disappointed.

Do you like film adaptations of books?
What are some of your favorite Anne adaptations?
What do you think of the 1985 miniseries or the Anne with an E series? 


19 thoughts on “#AnneReadAlong2017: Anne Adaptations

  1. This post makes me soooo happy! It’s obvious you put a lot of time and effort into this post. I really appreciate that. Plus, I’m super interested to watch ANY of these adaptions now.

    I’m a bit surprised that Anne of Ingleside is the only book not to have an adaption of some kind. I love that the books start to focus more on her children as the series goes on, but I’m surprised that appealed to the world of adaptions. Do you know where we can find the Rainbow Valley or Rilla of Ingleside adaptions?

    !!! I love the story about seeing the Megan Fellows adaption with your grandmother. What a heartwarming story! It’s so great you have such positive memories and they stayed true during this rewatch. I didn’t realize there was The Continuing Story— how odd that it’s set during WWII, since the oldest of these books were wrapping up during WWI. Why do you think this new story was written?

    The Anne adoption doesn’t really sound like my cup of tea. I totally understand why everything being too intense would be a turn-off. After all, Anne is supposed to be beautiful, strong, and wistful. Her imagination and happiness compel her. This just feels… strange. Do you know if the series will be continued? How far into the books did this series go?

    I haven’t seen a single adaption yet– but I am looking forward to seeing the 1985 miniseries! Thanks for an amazing and informative post, Jane!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Jackie! It was fun to (finally) write this out. I feel inspired to write more adaptation posts in future (I think a Pride and Prejudice adaptations post would be so fun! Oh, and Emma!)

      I should have included this link in my post: http://anneofgreengables.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Anne_of_Green_Gables_series_adaptations That’s where I got the bones of some of those facts about adaptations. Certainly Anne of Green Gables has been adapted the most. It is now my life dream to see the stage play on PEI!

      I am not sure why they deviated so much from the original stories in that continuing story adaptation. I will say that the moment when Anne finally finds Gilbert (in Germany where he’s been forced to be a military doctor for the Nazis) is so emotional. I cry every time. I guess they thought they’d do another film with the Megan Fellows actors. But again, not that good.

      Yeah, I would avoid the Anne adaptation. It’s just all wrong and totally strange. I have read that they are making season 2 (the first season ends on a total cliff hanger so it makes sense). It doesn’t go very far into the books–just the first one so far. Anne is still a young girl. So we will see if I decide to keep watching.

      I HIGHLY recommend the 1985 miniseries. Watch it! I know you’ll love it 🙂


  2. I’v never seen the 1985 version. I don’t know why I missed both that and the books when I was a kid. I read all the time but anything that smelled too much of “classic novel” I didn’t really want to read. 🙂

    The second, newest adaptation you reviewed does sound way too intense for me! I’ll stick to the books.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve only seen the first two episodes of Anne with an “E” and I was conflicted. The characters weren’t quite right. Anne talks a lot, but she doesn’t seem charming and she’s lost some of her dreaminess. She’s also rather mean to the hired boy. But one of the things I like best about Anne is her kindness! And Marilla would NEVER not apologize to Anne for punishing her for something she didn’t do. Finally, the Cuthberts would never put a child on trial. You don’t tell someone they can live with you until they do something naughty. That’s a horrible thing to do, like suddenly you’re not family if you make a mistake. Imagine how that sort of attitude would affect a child!

    I was also confused about the added scenes. Why does Matthew have to go on an odyssey to fetch Anne? The book is already fairly episodic. Adding this just doesn’t make sense. It also ruins the flow.

    Meghan Follows is still my favorite Anne. It seems like other actresses just babble on or, worse, shout, like its the talking that makes Anne, Anne. But it’s not. It’s the combination of spunk and dreaminess. Most can’t seem to get those to coexist.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with you, I adore the 1985 adaptation. The casting was excellent, and I, too, see the faces of those actors when I reread the Anne of Green Gables (I just wish more of it had been filmed in PEI instead of in Ontario.) I liked the first sequel but not the second.

    And while I enjoyed the first hour of “Anne: The Series,” I didn’t like the second hour at all, as it didn’t seem to me to be created in the spirit of Montgomery’s novel. I lost interest and didn’t make time to watch any further episodes.

    The musical is one of my favourite Anne adaptations and I’ve seen it five times, first when I was ten and most recently this past September. This year’s version was especially good, with AJ Bridel as Anne. I love the songs, and the energy and excitement in the theatre at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown. I also recommend Anne and Gilbert, the musical that follows their story during their time at Redmond College (it’s at The Guild Theatre in Charlottetown). I’ve seen it three times, most recently in September, the day after I saw the Anne of Green Gables musical, and I’d love to see both again. (You know already how much I love visiting PEI at any time of year!) The Anne and Gilbert songs are lively, the dancing and the fiddle music are fun, and I think this adaptation does a great job of capturing Anne’s spirit and her determination to make choices about her own life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Sarah, you make me want to get up to PEI right this second! How fabulous that you have seen those musicals! They both sound fantastic and so fun! Definitely adding them to my bucket list of travel necessities. 🙂

      And I’m so glad to hear you’re a 1985 miniseries fan too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. PEI is so beautiful, as I know I’ve said before, and probably more than once. It’s one of my favourite places in the world. If you make the trip — I mean, when you make the trip! — I hope you’ll write about it on your blog.

        Liked by 1 person

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