Thursday, September 22, 2011

Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987)

Watching Anne of Avonlea with my little sister. :)
Sept. 8-10, 2011

74. Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987) [a.k.a. Anne of Avonlea]—REWATCH

Starring Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, Wendy Hiller, Frank Converse, Jonathan Crombie
Directed by Kevin Sullivan

Plot: “Staying faithful to L.M. Montgomery's beloved books, this continuation of the award-winning miniseries picks up where the first installment left off, with redheaded heroine Anne Shirley (Megan Follows) beginning a new life as a teacher and an aspiring writer. She also encounters career hurdles and unfriendly townsfolk, but with her typical enthusiasm and good cheer.” (Summary from Netflix)

That first line of the summary above is actually wrong—this movie does not stay “faithful to L.M. Montgomery’s beloved books.” According to Wikipedia:
“When Kevin Sullivan was commissioned by CBC, PBS and The Disney Channel to create a sequel he started by combining many different elements of Montgomery’s three later books: Anne of Avonlea (1909), Anne of the Island (1915), and Anne of Windy Poplars (1936) into a cohesive screen story. Sullivan invented his own plotline relying on several of Montgomery’s episodic storylines spread across the three sequels, He also looked at numerous other nineteenth century female authors for inspiration in fleshing out the screen story.”
And IMDb:
“Though the American title is ‘Anne of Avonlea’, it is only partially based on that Lucy Maud Montgomery book (second in the series), and is in fact based on parts from books 2-4 in the series (out of 8). This was because Kevin Sullivan thought there wasn't ‘enough dramatic material for a film’ in the sequel ‘Anne of Avonlea’ alone.”
My point is that this sequel is not entirely faithful to the books…but it is still a wonderful movie. However, I basically grew up watching the two Anne films over-and-over. So I might be a bit biased by sentimental reasons.

This is almost embarrassing to admit, but before watching this the other day (probably the 164th time I've seen it) and doing a little Googling, I NEVER knew that this wasn't strictly based on the second novel! You see, I have read all of the Anne books except the first two. Back then I was young[er] and stupid[er] and thought since I had seen the movies that the books would be boring. Thus I never knew that the plot of this movie wasn't true to the book.

Clearly I need to read/reread the series very soon (it's been years since I first read them). Still a great movie, but I'm kind of a literary purist about some of these things. I wish that they would've followed the books more carefully and made future movies based on them (please, let's not even talk about the third movie—*shudder*—and that ghastly 'prequel' which I refuse to see). Part of me wishes for a remake of this series which follows the book more. But…I just have a hard time thinking that anyone else can play Anne, Marilla, Matthew, Rachel, Diana, etc. quite like this cast did.

Okay, so back to the film at hand. I think Megan Follows does an amazing job playing Anne. She gives so much life and spunk to the character.
{Click image for source} Is it just me or is Anne's hair not RED enough?
Love this picture
Jonathan Crombie I'm not totally fond of, though. He always just seemed a bit namby-pamby to play Gilbert (who in my opinion is one of the ultimate romantic heroes in fiction. So I’m kind of sad that I don’t love the actor who plays Gil). He’s not really awful, just not my favorite.

The rest of the cast is virtually perfect. Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla is wonderful, and Wendy Hiller is amusing in her scenery-chewing role (“drrrrenched”). I also really enjoyed the plot development of Katherine Brooke. Her character gets some fantastically quotable lines. For example: “What is to be the pill in all this jam, Miss Shirley?” and “Have you girls no propriety? This is not a Turkish bazaar!”

To summarize: this film has wonderful atmosphere, casting, costuming, characterization, romance, humor….and warmth to spare. It is really one of my favorite films and I never seem to tire of rewatching it. It may not be perfect but I enjoy it too much to really care. :)


  1. I remember being so disappointed the first time I saw this because they didn't follow my beloved books perfectly, but then I decided that I loved the film anyway and I think I've probably seen it 164 times too ;D The first Anne film is definitely my favourite though. Even though that one wasn't entirely faithful either, it just seemed more Anne-ish! I wish they'd weaved more of Anne of Windy Willows into the plot of the second film because, though it wasn't one of my favourite of the books when I first read the series, it's wiggled it's way up there now. I've never seen the prequel, but I have to admit to having seen the third film more than a few times. It's absolute tripe, it has nothing to do with the books, and they switched the time scale completely. Anne's CHILDREN went off to fight in WWI, not Gilbert! How utterly ridiculous. But still, I have watched it several times. What can I say? I own the DVD, I had to get my use out of it. ;D

    FINALLY, someone who agrees with me about Gilbert. He's sweet and all in the films but he's just not Gilbert! To be honest, I was never that enamoured with him in the books but I liked him enough to want Anne to marry him. In the films I'm just sitting there thinking, Marry him if you want... or you could marry Morgan Harris! ;D 

    YES. Wendy Hiller was brilliant! 

    I'm so sorry I've rambled so much (and if it doesn't make sense, I apologise, it's late here and I'm tired ;D )but I just love this post so much! Even the smallest mention of Anne will always brighten my day :D 

  2. Yes, once I got past my initial disappointment I really started to love the film, imperfect though it may be. It's been years and years since I've read the books (a sad fact) but I really need to reread them soon so I can compare them more to the films.

    I'm relieved that you agree with me about Gilbert. I thought most of the comments on this would be disagreeing with that fact! I guess the reason I like him in the books is that he's very kind and patient. I think he knows Anne better than she knows herself at times. And he's not moody like Mr. Darcy (I still like Mr. Darcy, but I'm just comparing Gilbert to him since he's always seen as the ideal man). But Gil in the films, I could almost take or leave. For a while I was thinking she should've married Morgan Harris but as the film progressed I didn't like Harris as much.

    Oh, and I agree with you about the third film. I've actually watched it twice, just to see if it was as awful as I remembered. ;)

    Thanks for your great comment, Sophie. It made perfect sense to me. :) I love talking about Anne!

  3. Haha I know what you mean about Katherine Brooke's quotable family is always saying "I'll have the maid prepare her room". (Yeah, we're pretty weird.) But I agree with practically everything you've said in this review!! I actually had sort of the opposite experience--by the time I saw the second film, I had read the first book, and books 4-6, but not 2 &3--so I had no idea how faithful this one was. Definitely childhood favorites.

  4. You're not alone! My sister and I have been quoting this movie all week. :)

  5. Oh this makes me want to rewatch this series! Great review!

  6. Thanks, Ruth! I plan on watching the first one again soon myself.

  7. Anne 2 is like well done fan fiction. It doesn't remain true to the book's plot, but the "spirit" of it is there. Still, you see Kevin Sullivan's contempt for the piece here since he takes Anne out of Avonlea for most of the film. He even allows his titular character to carry the contempt ["Avonlea's the dearest place in the world, but it's not an interesting
    enough setting for a story," says budding authoress Anne.]

    It's like Sullivan ran out of dialogue and simply transcribed his brainstorming session.

    I've grown to understand Katherine Brooke. She was just a mean old biddy, the Elmira Gulch of Anne 2, when I was little. The "redemption" at the end didn't fly with me. But now, I see she just wants attention and love. I still think the turn around is jarring, but they had to wrap up the ending with a nice big bow.

    To this day, I do not get why Morgan Harris is attracted to Anne or vice versa.

    Anne 3. Don't get me started on this atrocity! Sitting through this
    movie is like watching your brother steal your favorite doll, rip off
    its head and roll it in muck. Anne 3 is so contrary to the previous two
    (the time frame is even egregiously inconsistent) that they should have
    used a completely different title and other names for the characters.

    Thanks for bringing back great memories. :)
    - Java

  8. I think "well done fan fiction" is an excellent way to describe this movie.
    I've heard others echo the sentiment of Sullivan's contempt for Avonlea, but he can't have hated it too much because he went on to do the "Road to Avonlea" TV show (I can't really comment on those since I have only seen two of them). Maybe he was just cashing in on what he saw as a cash cow, though?

    I'll admit that I didn't completely understand Katherine when I was little, either, but now I really like that part of the movie. The transformation was sudden, but I think all the "prickles and stings" (to quote the film) was just a wall she put up to hide her hurt.

    The third Anne is an abomination, I wholeheartedly agree with you. It might even have been an okay story if he didn't use Montgomery's characters. But the fact that he pulled a story out of thin air and plucked these beloved characters in it is really inexcusable. I still don't see the reasoning behind it.

  9. Where is Anne of Green Gables my name is Miss: Erin Rebecca Chase can you please help me allow her to come to my house and have pizza at 758 Main Street Acushnet, Ma. 02743. 774 202-6759 is my private line phone number and my cell phone number is 774 634-8647.  Erin Rebecca Chase.

  10. We have the same taste of movies and actresses. I like Rebecca, Anne of Green Gables, Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fontaine, Megan Follows, Audrey Hepburn, Hitchcock. Wow, didn't realize Wendy Hiller of '30s Pygmalion was in "Anne..". M. Follows is W. Hiller in her era. 'Wish to have a similar blog in the future. Just don't know much of the technology but the passion is there.  More power! Thanks.

  11. "Anne of Green Gables" shows how a combination of love, honesty, hard work, tolerance and integrity is the perfect mix for bringing out the best from the potential in anyone, even in a non-traditional family. It's an incredibly refreshing break from today's society, where lying and manipulation have become almost a norm in much of the world we know.


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