Thursday, July 6, 2017

Anne With An "E"

I love Anne of Green Gables!  As a Canadian girl myself, I have always considered Anne to be a kindred spirit.  I have read the entire series by L.M. Montgomery more times than I can count and I regularly watch my copy of the 1985 miniseries starring Megan Follows.  When I learned about a new adaptation on Netflix called Anne With An "E" I was intrigued but I heard some negative reviews so I didn't watch it immediately.  I decided to watch it this week and, while it is much darker in tone than the books and the miniseries, I really enjoyed it.  This new version has everything that die-hard fans would expect:  the dramatic apology to Mrs. Lynde, the missing brooch, the slate on Gilbert's head, the raspberry cordial mix-up, puffed sleeves, Minnie May's croup, and Aunt Josephine's guest room.  However, there are some changes to the source material which emphasize the subtext, most notably sending Anne back to the orphanage in Charlottetown,  Anne's negative reception in the town of Avonlea and at school, the death of Gilbert's father, and the financial problems of the Cuthberts.  These changes and the dark tone are what most people criticize about this version but I thought they made the story more realistic and they made me empathize more with the characters.  I especially appreciated the story line of Anne's comments about Prissy Andrews and Mr. Phillips, the Avonlea teacher.  Because of her rough background, Anne had been exposed to many things that girls her age would not have been and she didn't understand that talking about certain things would be considered inappropriate.  She was just commenting on something she observed with the Hammonds.  This really struck a chord with me because my niece, who spent time in foster care, was definitely wise beyond her years when she became a part of my family.  I also liked the relationship that was forged between Anne and Marilla as a result of Anne's struggles to fit in.  Through all of her trials, Anne still uses her incredible imagination to cope which is why I like the novels so much.  Next, Amybeth McNulty gives a bewitching performance as Anne and I also enjoyed Geraldine James as Marilla and R. H. Thomson as Matthew.  I will admit that I do prefer Jonathan Crombie (from the 1985 miniseries) as Gilbert Blythe but Lucas Jade Zumann eventually won me over  Finally, I loved the beautiful cinematography with sweeping shots of Prince Edward Island (it is on my bucket list to visit P.E.I.) and the atmospheric score.  I think people without any familiarity with the story will enjoy this series more than die-hard fans (but I do think it is possible for fans to appreciate it for what it is) and I definitely recommend it.

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