Monday, March 12, 2012

Anne of Green Gables (1985) Review

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

I think I would probably come to the conclusion that I'd like [city life] for a while... but in the end, I'd still prefer the sound of the wind in the firs across the brook more than the tinkling of crystal.
~Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables (1985)

Anne of Green Gables is more than just a movie to my family--it's a tradition.  *cue music from Fiddler on the Roof*  We've watched all three hours and nineteen minutes of it every New Year's Eve for the last eight years or so.  We've also seen it at other sundry and diverse times, bringing my total number of AGG viewings to somewhere around an even dozen.

You will probably be shocked, floored and flabbergasted, therefore, to discover that my family quotes this movie constantly.  "Twenty... pounds... of brown... sugar."  "DON'T eat it, Miss Stacy!"

I could fill an entire blog post with Anne quotes, but I'll save that for the quote quiz later this week. :) Instead, I'll begin with my usual higgledy-piggledy review of all the characters and the Things I Love.

Probably my favorite thing about this movie is the way it sticks so close to the book.  Certain scenes are lifted word-for-word from the novel, and as a fanatic member of The Book Is Always Better club (which may or may not actually exist, I dunno), I heartily approve of this adaptation.  Which is a fact you already knew.  In the little booklet that accompanies our DVD, it says that the script for AGG is studied in film-making classes to teach students about how to successfully adapt literature for the screen.

I've said this before and I'll say it again, however: the important thing in a book-turned-movie is whether or not the adaptation is true to the spirit of the novel.  It doesn't have to be word-for-word perfect---in fact, I've seen some movies that were scrupulously accurate (Mansfield Park 1983, for instance) and frankly they're not so great.  Literature and films are two very different species of entertainment, and you can't expect a classic novel to just bounce off its pages and onto your TV screen.  It doesn't work that way.

All rambling aside, I adore this film.  I adore it with great adoration, as my sister Anne-girl would say.  The characters are just so perfectly cast... it's a book lover's dream come true.  Anne Shirley herself, for instance.

Megan Follows plays my favorite heroine to a T.  She looks like Anne, she moves and speaks like Anne, and she has that winsome charm that makes everyone love Anne.  Most people know, I think, that she was 17 during filming (and therefore Anne's age was moved from 11 to 13 so it would be more believable) and I have to say that the makeup artists and costume people did an amazing job making her look 13 at the beginning and then "aging" her throughout the movie.

See how much older she looks after her hair grows back in? And this is before she starts putting it up, even!
Schuyler Grant, who plays Diana Barry (it's pronounced Skyler, by the way) plays the perfect Diana. She actually auditioned for the role of Anne at the beginning, but I think she makes a much better Diana.  She's a little bit dense sometimes, but after all, the Diana character is not the sharpest thing in the place where they keep the sharp things.   She and Anne come across as great friends, however, and their kindred spirit-ness is beautifully developed as the story progresses.  One thing that was drastically changed from the book was Diana's feelings for Gilbert-- in the movie, it's hinted that Diana liked Gilbert but never said anything about it because she thought Anne liked him.  (Which Anne did.  But she didn't realize it until the end of the second movie.  Which leads me to believe that maybe Anne isn't the sharpest thing in the place where they keep the sharp things.)

"It might be the ghost of Mr. Hammond... still looking for his lunch!"
Moving on to Marilla and Matthew.  I love Marilla Cuthbert to pieces.  She's a no-frills, no-nonsense kind of person, but she comes to love Anne almost as a daughter despite her initial misgivings.  And her wry sense of humor is dee-lightful.  I love her reaction after Anne's outburst to Mrs. Lynde (and Mrs. Lynde's reciprocal outburst).  "Goodbye, Rachel."   Can't you just hear her voice in your head saying that (and see her rolling her eyes?) I love Marilla.

Matthew Cuthbert is the sweetest, kindest man ever to grace my TV screen (even more so than Mr. Jarndyce, and that's sayin' a lot).  He's gentle and generous and a good listener, and though he won't talk the hind leg off a mule, when he does speak up you know what he says will be worth listening to.

My siblings call this the "peekaboo" scene. :D
Richard Farnsworth might not look like the description of Matthew in the books, but I don't care.  Stop fainting.  I really don't care.  This was one instance where Lucy Maud Montgomery was wrong.  The picture below is what Matthew really looks like.

Okay, I seriously cannot believe I got this far without dragging him into this post somehow, but we now come to Gilbert Blythe.  Played to perfection (yes, I'm gushing---get over it) by Jonathan Crombie, he may or may not have been my very first literary/movie crush.  (Friedrich von Trapp in Sound of Music does not count, ladies.  I was nine then.)

Um, anyway, I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on Gilbert here because I have a post planned about him, so I shall just say that I am far too amused by Gilbert's pronunciation of "sorry" and that the slate-on-head scene is one of the best.  Ever.

So is this scene.

In fact, there are a ton of scenes that I love from this movie, not to mention a ton of characters that I love (Miss Stacy, Mrs. Lynde, Aunt Josephine, Aunt Olivia Alice Lawson....).  I know that if I write about all of them, though, I'll be here all night and it's already past my bedtime and I have to get up early to go to work tomorrow so I'll cut this short.  And stop rambling.

"In the end I suppose it was a romantic way to perish... for a mouse."
"My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes. That's a sentence I read once and I say it over to comfort myself in these times that try the soul."
(It was easier to throw a bunch of pictures and quotes at you than to meticulously go through each and every one of those scenes.  And yes, I'm aware that the last picture and quote don't actually match.  Soary.)

This movie has it all.  Hilarity ("Fishing. For lake trout"), heartbreak ("I'm so proud of my little girl..."), hysterics ("Anne's DROWNING! She's drowning and we're MURDERERS....."), gorgeous costumes, beautiful PEI scenery and a happy ending.  "You're lucky if I don't break one over yours... carrots.  Come on.  I'll walk you home."

Eleven stars out of ten, kindred spirits.  If you haven't seen this yet, what are you waiting for?
More on this story and these characters will be coming either tomorrow or the day after... because, you know, tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.  Yet.


Emily said...

One of my most favorite movies EVER!!! Soooo good!

Marcia said...

ohmygoodness! I laughed aloud so many time reading this post. The movie made me want to go to p.e.i!! I love Dianna, and Anne, and everybody else. Excuse me? Gil is so mine! Except I don't like his hair in the later movies. :( And his sorry is totally the best. I must say, this is my favorite movie ever, it beats Jane Austen movies a hundred times over, though I adore them too. Overall, L.M. Montgomery is my favorite author ever, I have read the books times over, and still read them and never get bored.

p.s. I shall try to answer your questions tomorrow. I am giddy with excitement, can't you tell. *ahem* deeply sorry, I shall be proper once again, well maybe.

Alexandra said...

This film (and the sequel) is one of the best period, and one of my earliest childhood memories. I used to act out scenes from this all - day - long.

SO excited about this week! Now to answer those tag questions...

Lauren said...

I love Anne of Green Gables!

This review was fantastic, and I completely agree, it is practically faultless!

Matthew would have to be one of my favourite characters because he reminds me so much of my Grandpa.

I kept crying when he died ) ;

Lovely review ( ;


Jemimah :-) said...

Great Post.
I L-O-V-E Anne of Green Gables too, and the slate scene is one of the BEST. And yeah, I was amazed at how close it was to the book, as most movies done on books usually aren't.
Can't wait for the next posts!

Sunny Smith said...

I love this movie! A tradition in my family as well, this and The Sound of Music. Your post made me want to watch it all over again.

Ella said...

I have watched this movie at least five times:)
My one of my favorite scense is the lake scene.

Anonymous said...

I love this film! Definitely one of my family's favorites. =) Haha! I love Gil's "soary." Makes me laugh every time I hear it!

However, I must disagree with you on one point... Matthew better than Mr. Jarndyce? Never! =)

Jemimah C. said...

This is my favorite movie ever! All right, one of my many favorites. But it's still such a wonderful, lovely, sweet, perfect film! The casting was great, the story line followed closely to that of the book...seriously, what's not to love about it?

Rissi said...

Love this movie - it is truly a "classic."

BTW: I've never told you but I think your "quote" from Miss Dashwood about restricting remarks to the weather if you cannot say anything nice is really cute. =)

Bekah said...

This was one of the very first movies I ever watched, and it will forever be among my very favorites!

There is nothing quite like Anne of Green Gables, in my opinion. Even my Mom says so!!

You wrote a delightful post about it, by the way, and I am enjoying your Anne week! :D

Miss Dashwood said...

Me too! Absolutely classic.

I'll look forward to reading your answers! Haha, we might end up fighting over Gil... ;)
Though I can't agree that this movie beats Jane Austen a hundred times over (nobody beats Jane Austen, IMHO) it's a very, very close second.

Aww, that's too cute! I think I first saw this when I was eight, so there was once a time when I didn't know about it... that's kind of weird to think, because I feel like I've always loved Anne!

So few movies deserve the title of "perfect", but this is one of them. That's so sweet that Matthew reminds you of your grandpa. He would be a wonderful grandfather himself, don't you think?

Gotta love the slate scene. :) Isn't it refreshing when a movie sticks closely to the book?

Miss Dashwood said...

The Sound of Music is a tradition in my family too! Neither of them get old... although I think I'd get tired of SofM faster than I'd get tired of Anne. :)

Ooh, I love that scene too. "Help was on the way, and I was calmly waiting for it!"

Haha, well, to each her own. Although of course my opinion about Matthew is only temporary... as soon as I see Bleak House again, I'll probably be agreeing with you about Mr. Jarndyce. ;) Fickle as Philippa...

Jemimah C.,
Agree entirely!

I'm glad you like the Mrs. Dashwood quote! We say that a lot in my house. :)

Diana said...

I can't even count how many times I've watched this beloved movie. When I was a teenager I had it on repeat. You know those people who listen to music while cleaning, doing homework, or completing other mundane tasks? Yeah, Anne of Green Gables (and Pride and Prejudice) were my music. I knew them so well I didn't have to be closely watching. They brightened my days!

Hayden said...

I adore this movie to pieces.

There's nothing more to say other than that I agree with literally everything you said in this post (and the not the sharpest knife bit was hil-ar-i-ous) and now I want to go watch this movie again. Both of them.

Grace said...

Hello! I recently discovered your blog and I absolutely love it. This post made me laugh so very hard - my family always makes fun of Gil's pronunciation of "sorry" too. Canadians! :)

Bíblos said...

Thank you for suggesting the re-reading of the classics of children's literature.
I state that I missed the movie but I discovered “Anne of Green Gables” by transposition in the animated version directed by Isao Takahata and that was the pretext for reading.
For me, the story reminds not only "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott but also "Chocolat" by Joanne Michèle Sylvie Harris, is not it?
Movie or book not to be missed. Bye.