L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, on YTV (Canada) / PBS (USA)
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This aired in February 2016 in Canada, but I didn't see it until it aired on Thanksgiving 2016 on PBS. I've always been a fan of the original novel (from 1908), and of the 1985 miniseries. So of course I was eager to see this new adaptation of the book. Apparently it was originally going to be a 13-part series. And when I got to the end of the movie, I was rather disappointed at how little of the story it actually covered, so I thought a series would have been better. But now it looks like there are two more TV movies planned, so I look forward to those. Meanwhile, I really did quite enjoy this movie. I mean, it's not as good as the 1985 miniseries, but it was still pretty good.
It's set in 1907, on Prince Edward Island. There are these siblings who live together, Matthew Cuthbert (Martin Sheen) and his sister Marilla (Sara Botsford). They had sent away to an orphanage to adopt a boy to help on their farm. However, they're mistakenly sent a girl named Anne Shirley. She's a very talkative and imaginative girl, with a rather poetic soul. I think Matthew took a liking to her almost immediately, but Marilla is a more practical sort, who took longer to warm up to Anne. And she's the one who makes all the decisions. So, at first Anne's stay at their home ("Green Gables"), was to be temporary, until they could find a good home for her with a proper family. Meanwhile, Anne makes a best friend, Diana Barry. And when she starts attending school, she develops an immediate dislike for a boy named Gilbert Blythe, though it seems he likes her. (Her dislike is basically because of a comment he made about her red hair, but he couldn't have known how deeply troubled she felt about her hair color. Speaking of which, she also immediately hated a friend of Marilla's named Rachel Lynde, for a similar reason, though she forgave Rachel long before she would ever forgive Gilbert.) Anyway, the movie covers a number of things that happen during Anne's first several months on the island, including an incident that leads to Diana's mother, Mrs. Barry (Linda Kash), deciding not to let her daughter be friends with Anne anymore. And a subsequent incident that leads to her changing her mind. And over time, Marilla comes to care for Anne as much as Matthew does. So when they finally receive a letter saying that a home had been found for Anne, Marilla decides (with some urging from Rachel) that Anne should stay at Green Gables, after all. And that's where the movie ends. It hardly feels like a spoiler to say that, since there's still a lot of story left in the book, which I assume will be covered in the subsequent films.
So... I must say, it all seemed a bit rushed, to me, going from one scene to the next, covering the events of several months in just about 90 minutes. And I dare say I liked all the actors from the old miniseries better. But I also really liked all the actors in this movie somewhat more than I expected to. (Not that I expected to dislike any of them; certainly I knew Sheen and Botsford were both good actors in other things. Anne herself was played by Ella Ballentine, whom I don't think I know from anything else. But while I'll always think of Megan Follows as the "real" Anne Shirley, I did think Ballentine did a reasonable job of conveying the character's inherent charm.) So the movie was sweet and fun and sort of nostalgic to me, in spite of its newness. And... I guess that's all I can think to say. (Except I've never understood how anyone can dislike red hair.)
Followed by Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars