7 Reasons Why This Anne of Green Gables Superfan Welcomes the New Miniseries

Anne of Green Gables

 

My take on the Anne of Green Gables reboot may surprise some of you.

When the news broke yesterday that there would be a new 8 hours of AOGG to air on the CBC in 2017, there was a flurry of posts, many of them decrying the new project, sight unseen.

But I am not one of those people condemning it. 

Obviously, I’m a huge fan. See:

 “Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and Me”

AOG_update (8)Anne is my literary kindred spirit and mentor, and Gilbert is my #1 Lifetime Book Crush, which is understating how I feel about him. Should he appear at the door in some sort of time/space/book/reality continuum, it’s all over between me and my husband of 24 years. Obviously. (He is clear on these terms–my husband, not Gilbert Blythe.)

I adore the lustrous 1985 Sullivan miniseries, which I think was perfectly cast and–the first few hours–near flawlessly executed. When I picture Anne and Gilbert, I picture Megan Followes and Jonathan Crombie (upon his death in April, it felt like I had lost my first love, a feeling shared by hundreds of thousands of fans). That movie will stand the test of time.

And yet. Here are 7 reasons why I welcome the news of a fresh adaptation:

1. I don’t see this new miniseries as a replacement or even a reboot, but rather another treatment and retelling.

2. Surely a story as strong as Anne’s deserves many interpretations and interactions; if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t have written my Anne-braided memoir. My emphasis was Anne as orphan, and Maud as orphan, too. Other wonderful writers have written about different themes that mean the most to them.

3. I am excited to see what a truly gifted writer such as Moira-Walley Beckett will do with Lucy Maud Montgomery’s luscious words and delectable storytelling. (I use foodie types of adjectives here because for me, this book is a feast.) And Walley-Beckett is my Canadian sister! As cherished as AOGG is in these United States, in Canada it is near sacred.

“But, but, but!!!” Many of you are sputtering, I know. “You can’t improve on perfection!”

That’s not what’s happening here, in my view.

4. New interpretations should be welcome to those with a big scope for the imagination:

The 1985 film may stand as THE adaptation forevermore, but I welcome other storytellers sharing what inspires, delights, intrigues and provokes them most about Anne and company.

5. I will always find irresistible the cast of the 1985 movie: Megan and Jonathan, Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farnsworth, Schuyler Grant etc.

Heck, I pretty much revere anyone who drew breath in that movie, which was proven when I accosted Mag Ruffman (Olivia in Road to Avonlea and Alice Lawson, the shopgirl in AOGG from whom Matthew purloined the 20 pounds of brown sugar and the garden rake ) on MY HONEYMOON in Banff in 1991.

Mag Ruffman

As you can imagine, spotting such a personage walking down the street sent me into an alarming tizzy (I say “alarming” because both my groom and Olivia, er, Mag Ruffman, were alarmed by my delirious behaviour, CDN spelling!).

I digress.

Short story:

My utter devotion to the classic doesn’t undermine my desire to see what this “Breaking Bad” and “Flesh and Bone” writer will do.

Yes, Walley-Beckett’s shows are R rated, but that doesn’t mean she can’t write for a general audience.

6: A darker, more realistic Anne?

I’d love to see her go darker with Anne. Anne was a damaged, broken child when she came to Green Gables, after all.

Walley-Beckett said: “Anne’s issues are contemporary issues: feminism, prejudice, bullying and a desire to belong.”

“The stakes are high and her emotional journey is tumultuous.”

Amen!

And BONUS:

7: Maybe, probably, her version will highlight stories and characters that the first miniseries omitted. There are dozens of heavenly stories and characters I would welcome watching in a film adaptation. Phil! Captain Jim! Leslie! And the list puffs up like Anne’s sleeves.

Our beloved Anne Girl has so many layers to her; her story countless important themes. I was honored to write about just one of them: the desire to belong.

What will Walley-Beckett and her team bring to our collective understanding of these permanent, permeating characters and their undying stories?

I for one can’t wait to find out.

 

Comments

  1. Heather says

    Hi Lori. After reading your post, I am intrigued and will be watching the new series. Off the top, I am not sure I want to see a darker side of Anne as the draw for me as a younger person was the purity of the story. That being said, I am definitely intrigued by your points and you have won me over (Well done!). Another exciting thought though is that this series is going to appeal to a new generation. My hope is that this series will ignite new readers, Anne fans and Canadian pride (not to mention all that tourism revenue. LOL). I don’t think it can get any better than that. I am looking forward to sitting and watching with my family, including my ultra-supportive hubby!

  2. Philippa says

    I adore the 1985 mini-series – well, at least parts 1 and 2. I never watched part 3 because I understand that it jumps the shark on canon. ;) (Newly married Anne as a spy during WW1 searching for a missing Gilbert???? Excuse me? :D And hello, she was well into her FIFTIES during WW2, right?) But parts 1 and 2 are simply delightful – they may take liberties with the (very episodic) canon, but they are very true to the spirit of LMM’s story. And while Megan Follows is not MY Anne, the Anne who has existed in my imagination since I, too, was an eleven-year-old girl, she is a very wonderful Anne. The much-mourned Jonathan Crombie was a peerless Gilbert! I adore Colleen Dewhurst’s Marilla.

    Making the story so self-consciously about issues, rather than just letting it breathe for itself (as LMM did) does make me feel a bit wary. But then I survived the many liberties that Peter Jackson took with my beloved ‘Lord of the Rings’ …

    (You met Matthew’s nemesis, the ‘shop girl’ with her ‘flashy bangles’, in real life? Wow!)

    • Lorilee says

      Hi Phillipa! Wonderful hearing from a reader across the ocean. I completely agree about Part 3–it cannot be withstood! Interesting thought about the new series being about issues. Hopefully they will be artfully woven into the story. Thanks for reading “Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and Me”! I am honoured!

  3. says

    A thousand amens! What was the first miniseries but an interpretation? Case in point: I adore the Nicholas Nickleby story by Charles Dickens. There are two relatively recent fine films out there, one with James D’Arcy and one with Charlie Hunnam. I love both! Both provide interpretations of a beloved story. I look forward to this fresh take on Anne!

    • Lorilee says

      You, Tracy, are a kindred spirit all the way! After all, the 1985 film is not THE BIBLE! :) I look forward to both the upcoming, LMM-family supported production with Martin Sheen, and the 2017, 8 part miniseries.

  4. Danielle Charland Gruhzit says

    Hi, Lorilee, I took the same position you did from the moment I watched the trailer of the new series of AOGG.

    I LOVE the books and the series already done that is so beloved by all with Megan & co.. But what I saw in the trailer was very well done, I thought, and I always love to watch different adaptations to my favorite classic books. They all do pull out different aspects of characters or scenes, as they can’t do the entire story in 1 1/2 or 2 hours, or as in a series, even then they can’t do the entire series of books int their series of 1 hour shows.

    I read the whole series while I was ill in my 20′s (didn’t know about them when I was a girl, then I was a Little House fan), and I’m 54 now and I am rereading them all again (not on paperback as I did the first time but on my kindle). How I would LOVE a hard bound collector’s illustrated version of at least the first book… but why not all of them (?) in my extensive children’s book collection that is growing. (I hope Santa is “Listening” hee hee).

    Enjoy the new series everyone! Try to take it as a work of art in it’s own right and not with a critical eye, you’ll enjoy it so much better. I’m glad there are those, like you, that are looking forward to it. I am sorry there are so many that are so negative about it. Not very encouraging for the young girl that is working so very hard to play the part of Anne, let alone the rest of the cast and crew. Cheer them on!

    • Danielle Charland Gruhzit says

      Oh, and I’m definitely going to order your latest book , Lorilee. Sounds wonderful, and though there are no orphans in our family currently, my maternal grandfather was an orphan and raised in an Episcopal orphanage. He turned out great! :D

      As I love the book AOGG and am a music teacher so I deal with children of many different backgrounds all of the time, I’m sure I will learn something from you. It sounds great. It will be a great way to “get to know you”, too. I plan on “dropping by” occasionally, reading your blog, if that’s okay, as I think we’re “kindred spirits”. Blessings Galore! I pray that you find your book is loved by thousands!!! (or more!) :D

  5. F. Drake Owen says

    Hello Lorilee,
    I loved your summary of the last Downton Abbey Episode but when I saw you are a huge Anne fan I had to reply. Megan Follows will always be Anne in my mind because my daughter, Laura, fell in love with the books and series so I will always associate Megan with Anne since she was the one my daughter loved so much as Anne’s character. I am a retired reading teacher and would share Anne’s stories with my elementary students over the years. My daughter was a beautiful redhead with freckles when she was younger, and still is, so when we visited all the Anne sites one summer in glorious PEI she fit right in with the whole Anne environment. Anne will always have a very special place in my heart since I identify her so strongly with those precious elementary years I had with Laura. My wife and I revisited PEI several years later for an anniversary trip and were able to see the Anne of Green Gables play in Charlottetown which was wonderful. I will certainly look forward to seeing the new Anne movie and series but Megan is our Anne just as Ruth Wilson is our Jane Eyre. I know I am going to enjoy your blog, for such series as Downton and Anne brighten our lives with the richness of their narratives.

  6. Debbie says

    I’m excited to see RH Thomson (Jasper Dale from Avonlea) play Matthew! When I first heard about the new series I thought (as I always do) “No on can really be Matthew like Richard Farnsworth was.” Then I read “RH Thomson” and thought, “Except maybe Jasper!” Can’t wait to see.

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