Anne of Green Gables: A Canadian Classic
Ah, Anne Shirley, the high-spirited orphan whose vivid imagination often lands her in trouble, in spite of her best intentions. How could anyone not love her? I certainly fell in love with her ill-fated escapades and her open personality, as I watched these movies throughout my young-adult years.
The first, Anne of Green Gables, is the heart-warming tale of her accidental adoption by an elderly brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who needed help around the farm. As she adjusts to her new life in Avonlea, she makes a 'bosom friend,' Diana Barry (and a mortal enemy, Gilbert Blythe ;). I love watching the humor and drama unfold, as she and her friends reenact favorite pieces of poetry (which leave her stranded on a bridge piling, when her boat sinks, and force her into a mortifying rescue by Gil, who happens to be rowing nearby). Anne's witty and sarcastic retorts to Gilbert's attempts at friendship are second to none. Anne and Gilbert go off to college, where their closely matched intelligence still provides grounds for competition and contention between them, but as they grow, they become friends. When Anne causes a scandal in town by accepting a buggy ride home (unchaperoned) from Gil, she vehemently denies anything but friendship between them, but it's clear that Gil doesn't feel the same.
In the sequel, Anne of Avonlea, changes come as Anne's friend Diana gets married, and it seems marriage is on everyone's mind but Anne's. Meanwhile, Anne is trying to launch her writing career, but she's denied again and again and then humiliated when her friend submits one of her stories to become a baking powder advertisement. Just before Diana's wedding, Gilbert proposes, but Anne tells him they could never be happy together, and she is sure she'll never marry. As Gil goes off to medical school, Anne starts a new adventure, as a teacher at a girl's school, where her old teacher, Miss Stacey, is on the board.
There are still plenty of laughs in this movie, as Anne deals with her girls' shenanigans and fights, and tries to make her place in the town controlled by one pervasive and powerful family. We don't see a lot of Gilbert in the second half, except when he comes to Kingsport (where Anne is teaching) for a medical conference. He and Anne try to pretend that nothing has changed between them, and it's only after Gil becomes engaged that Anne realizes she's been wrong about her feelings for a long time. It takes Gil's severe bout with scarlet fever to bring Anne to admit as much to him, and then she fears she's waited too long.
I love this second installment, not just because it's a great story, but because it is a sweet and frustrating romance (I love them and hate them, but these are the best kind, in my opinion, as long as they end well -- where you know they belong together, but the timing always seems off). We see Anne's denial of her feelings for Gil (she's convinced he's just a good friend) and Gil's heartbreak as Anne continually pushes him away, but their banter and Anne's temper and stubborn pride continue to provide humor. The odd thing is, I feel like they are not even together for most of the movie (since they are living and teaching in different locales), but I suppose the separation (and the anxiety of another suitor after Anne) just makes it that much sweeter when they come to realize their love.
Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story sees Anne and Gilbert finally married... just in time for him to be sent off to war. When Anne loses contact with Gil, she follows him into the war zone and ends up caring for an orphaned boy (the cutest boy you ever want to see ;), when his mother dies. After what seems an eternity, Anne and GIl are finally reunited.
Here is a quick look at each of the stories. After watching these clips, I think I'm due for another viewing of the feature films. ;) Not only are these movies humorous and heartwarming, their old-fashioned town setting shows people with basic moral virtues, good family values, respect for parents and elders and other fine qualities. I would count them a great addition to a family collection.
Part 1: Anne in her teenage years, plagued by red hair and a plain name. This one is the funniest, with most of her misadventures (dying her hair green, when it should have been black, accidentally serving her friend wine instead of cordial, breaking her slate over Gilbert's head when he pulled her hair in school, and more).
Part 2: This is one of my favorite romance movies of all time, as Gil and Anne's relationship develops, and they make their way into adulthood. I love the chemistry between the two, the heartache and the triumph.
Part 3: This is my least favorite of the trilogy -- I don't like the age jump, as everyone looks 'old,' but I do like how you finally see them wed, and their loyalty and perseverance in the face of trouble.
Here are the individual parts, for those looking to fill out their collection, or those interested in one specific part.
Anne with an 'e' always made me feel connected, because I have the same name, and I remember feeling the same passion for having it spelled right. :) When I need a laugh, this is a movie I reach for, as Anne's fierce pride and bright imagination combine to lead her into many and varied troubles. I can't give away all of them, but I promise you will be entertained. :)
Anne grows in grace and beauty, as she goes on to college and then becomes teacher at a girl's school. She still can't quite seem to stay out of trouble, as she helps her girls out of scrapes and faces a stern headmistress, another suitor and misbehaving students from the town's leading family. Still, her hard work and natural charm eventually win others over.
Anne pursues her writing career, as she and Gilbert are married. As WWI intrudes on their lives, Gil is shipped off to the field hospitals, and Anne loses contact with him. This launches her on an adventure of her own, trying to track down her husband and find out whether he is still alive.