Anne of Green Gables

Movie review by
Common Sense Media Editors, Common Sense Media
Anne of Green Gables Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Faithful, sensitive take on classic novel is great for kids.
  • NR
  • 1986
  • 199 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 23 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

While not intended to be educational, the movie offers a look at life in 19th-century Canada, as well as worthwhile lessons about friendship, responsibility, and more.

Positive Messages

Anne's story is a celebration of friendship, imagination, creativity, hope, and finding family in unexpected places. Characters learn lessons from their mistakes, and Anne always tries to improve herself when her flaws are pointed out. Major themes are curiosity, empathy, and self-control, as well as gratitude and humility.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Anne's impulsiveness and enthusiasm lead her into scrapes of all kinds, but she usually means well and tries her best to learn from her mistakes. She's quick (in most cases) to make amends, though she can hold a grudge. She's also smart, imaginative, independent, hardworking, and creative; in other words, an excellent role model. Marilla and Matthew are loving (if not demonstrative) caregivers, and they parent Anne the best way they know how. Some characters can be flighty and/or spiteful, but they either learn the error of their ways or are clearly meant to be unsympathetic.

Violence & Scariness

A few episodes find Anne lashing out in anger or stuck in mildly perilous situations -- walking atop a roof, for instance, or floating in a leaky boat -- but there's no real violence or danger. A key character's death is very sad, and an episode in which a baby is very ill is tense. Anne enjoys tragic tales of woe and imagines many of them. School discipline is stricter/more corporal in Anne's world than in ours.

Sexy Stuff

Very mild flirting/romance between some characters. A teacher pays special attention to one of his teen students (which is less scandalous in Anne's time than it would be today but is still a little eyebrow-raising).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Anne accidentally gets Diana drunk during a tea party due to a bottle mix-up.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Anne of Green Gables is generally very faithful adaptation of L.M. Montgomery's beloved novel about red-headed orphan Anne Shirley and has hardly any iffy content. Anne does accidentally get her best friend drunk in one scene, but it's due to an honest mix-up, and there are consequences. Other scenes include some mild peril and conflict, but overall this is a lovely, leisurely, kid-friendly story of another time. In fact, some younger kids may find it a little too leisurely, but if you spread the viewing out over several afternoons or evenings, they'll probably get sucked right in. If they do, they'll be delighted by Anne, whose imagination, impulsiveness, and thirst for love and friendship make her a very sympathetic, relatable character.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMoviereviewer274 August 12, 2019

Obsessed with it!!

I absolutely love this movie. It’s a classic but also the quality is good. I love the actors and think they did an amazing job (R.I.P. Jonathan aka Gilbert Blyt... Continue reading
Parent Written bySarah R. August 15, 2020

Great Movie for families!

Good clean, entertaining well made
Teen, 16 years old Written byChicagogrl February 10, 2010

Great for all ages though kids 10+ will understand it better

Loved it i saw it once on a pbs special then got the movie and i fell in love with it. The movie is pretty long (aprox. 4hrs), but for me is well worth the watc... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byUgli Chic March 14, 2010

for ages 5-105

LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!! Anne of Green Gables is one of my fav books, and I love Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie b/c they did such a great job in the saga! ~Ugl... Continue reading

What's the story?

In ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, an adaptation of L.M. Montgomery's novel, young orphan Anne Shirley (Megan Follows) is sent to picturesque Avonlea, on Canada's Prince Edward Island, to live with a new family. At the story's outset, the odds are against Anne. Middle-aged siblings Marilla (Colleen Dewhurst) and Matthew (Richard Farnsworth) expected a boy -- someone who could take on much of the work at their farm. While Anne quickly wins Matthew over, Marilla proves a tougher nut to crack. But driven by love, persistence, passion, and the willingness to work hard, Anne is able to transcend her difficulties and fulfill her dreams.

Is it any good?

This movie is gorgeous to look at and brimming with simple truths about love, friendship, and family. The book has been adapted several times, but this version of Anne of Green Gables stands out as the one young viewers will remember. Beautifully adapted and dramatized, this evocation of turn-of-the-century Canada is peopled with finely drawn characters whose personal stories captivate viewers. "Bosom friend" Diana Barry is played earnestly by Schuyler Grant, and Jonathan Crombie is a fan favorite as Anne's tormentor-turned-friend Gilbert Blythe. Follows herself is a delightful Anne, lit by an inner fire, hilariously outspoken, and strong-willed.

Dewhurst and Farnsworth embody the proud and isolated sister and brother who come to love Anne. Farnsworth, in particular, gives a subtle, poignant performance -- the scene in which Matthew first meets Anne is priceless. His silent reactions as she chatters incessantly tell more about the man than any speech could. Anne serves as a strong role model, and her story is told with humor and a refreshing lack of sentimentality. (Her story continues in Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel.)

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Anne in Anne of Green Gables. Is she a role model? Is she like any kids you know in real life? How do you think she'd be different if the movie was set in modern times?

  • If you've read the book, how does the movie compare? Which do you like better, and why? If you haven't read the book, does watching the movie make you want to check it out?

  • Talk about the choices available to girls (and women) at the turn of the century. Why did Marilla feel that Anne would be "of little use" to them? And how did Anne overcome the difficult odds she faced at the beginning of the film?

  • How do the characters in Anne of Green Gables demonstrate curiosity, self-control, and empathy? What about humility and gratitude? Why are these all important character strengths?

Movie details

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