In the fall of 1986, two important things happened in my life. The first event was the start of my high school education. The second was my introduction to Anne Shirley, a kindred spirit if there ever was one.
It was at my mother’s insistence I became acquainted with Anne.
When PBS announced it would be airing the 1985 version of the film Anne of Green Gables (starring Megan Follows), my mom encouraged me to watch it with her. When I resisted, she
forced me to watch it announced it would be required watching for me, whether I liked it or not.
Naturally, I crossed my arms, set my jaw, and decided under no circumstances would I enjoy anything at all about watching Anne of Green Gables. Stoically, I sat down for the first night’s segment, already dreading the five more nights yet to air.
Less than ten minutes after the opening credits, I was enthralled … with Anne Shirley, with kindred spirits, and with Prince Edward Island, Canada.
As soon as school let out the next day, I rushed to the library to get the only copy of Anne of Green Gables on the shelf. Before the next segment aired, I was more than halfway through the novel.
Anne of Green Gables, written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, was first published in 1908. The main character, Anne Shirley, is a young teen-aged orphan, who has spent all of her life living between foster homes and orphanages, never being loved. When elderly, unmarried siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert fetch for an orphan boy to come live with them and help tend to the farm, Anne shows up by mistake. At first, Marilla wants to send Anne back and get the boy they originally requested, but in the end decides to give Anne a try.
From the outset, it seems stubborn Anne, despite her longings to remain at Green Gables, will be sent back to the girls’ home. Within hours of arriving, Anne meets Marilla’s dear friend Mrs. Rachel Lynde, who makes a snide comment about Anne’s red hair. Anne vehemently retorts, “You are a rude, impolite, unfeeling old woman! … How would you like it if I said you were fat and clumsy and probably hadn’t a spark of imagination in you?” When Marilla forces Anne to apologize for her rudeness or return to the orphanage, it takes quiet, gentle Matthew Cuthbert stepping in to save the day.
Throughout the novel, fiesty, imaginative Anne is prone to finding trouble. Her antics include dying her red hair green by mistake, getting her best friend drunk by mistaking currant wine for raspberry cordial, and nearly feeding her beloved teacher a pudding contaminated by a dead mouse. But Anne also endears herself to the reader as she searches for and finds many “kindred spirits” in her new home in the small community of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, Canada, including bosom friend Diana Barry and handsome arch rival Gilbert Blythe.
The 1985 Sullivan Entertainment movie adaptation of Anne of Green Gables is very true to the book. Throughout the movie, the characters’ lines remain, for the most part, unchanged from the way they were originally written by the book’s author. The enchanting music and exquisite scenery simply add an extra dimension to the already heartwarming story of an orphan girl finding her place in the world at last.
Anne of Green Gables has become something of a classic chick-flick in recent years, but many of my friends who adore the movie have never actually taken the time to read the novel. If you haven’t read or watched this lovely story, let me encourage you to do so.
I’ve read the novel Anne of Green Gables at least eight times, perhaps more. I’ve watched the four-hour movie an equal number of times. Amazingly, I’ve never grown tired of Anne Shirley whether I read her story or watch it acted out. Perhaps that’s because my favorite part is the simply finding a kindred spirit in the main character. Her spunk and enthusiasm for life are contagious. Once you meet Anne Shirley (either on the pages of the novel or as acted out on the movie screen), she becomes as real as any person … a sign of both excellent writing and acting.
As an avid reader, I typically find the book to be better than the movie, although occasionally I’ve enjoyed a movie much more than the book.
But every once in a blue moon, if you are lucky enough, you’ll find a book and a movie adaptation which you’ll find to be equally enjoyable. For me, this would be the story of Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables.
Books or Movies? Which do you prefer?