Monday, December 26, 2011

Watching Anne

One of the things that I remember about the Christmas holidays from I was growing up was watching the Anne of Green Gables movies which used to air on CBC in December.

The Emmy- and Gemini-award winning first- movie, which tells the story of Anne’s arrival at Green Gables and how she wins the hearts of her Prince Edward Island community, was filmed in 1985. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it over the years – I’d keep coming back to the familiar story and its loveable heroine.

This year for Christmas V bought me the DVD set of the trilogy and tonight I twisted his arm into sitting down and watching the first part of the first disc. He tolerated it well enough – and for me, it was like stepping back into my childhood memories.

I grew up reading Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books and loved her Anne and Emily heroines. They were imaginative, independent, feisty and kind-hearted dreamers and I would lose myself in the pages of their stories.

In making the Anne movies, director Kevin Sullivan managed to stay perfectly true to the character of Anne, even while changing the story’s timeline and events. He captured the strong, emotional friendship between Anne and her ‘bosom friend’ Diana, Anne’s stubborn refusal to let herself fall for Gilbert, and the deepening bond between Anne and her foster parents, Marilla and Mathew. Apparently the film has been studied in American universities’ communications courses on how to successfully adapt literary material for the screen.

Of course, to have such a successful movie, the acting has to be solid – and the central actors are all fantastic, especially Megan Follows (who plays Anne and who was only 16 when first cast in the role), Colleen Dewhurst (Marilla) and Richard Farnsworth (Mathew). And an interesting bit of trivia, Schuyler Grant who plays Diana is the great niece of Katherine Hepburn who recommended Grant for the part of Anne – but as Sullivan was determined to have a Canadian play Anne, he chose Follows.

Watching part of the Anne trilogy tonight has been a lovely walk down memory lane – a lane of cherry blossoms and idyllic vistas. A perfect holiday tradition.

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