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!
- 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?