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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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What's the story?
In ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, an adaptation of L.M. Montgomery's novel, 13-year-old 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 rustic 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, plain on the surface but lit by an inner fire. She's 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 terrific 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?
- In theaters: January 10, 1986
- On DVD or streaming: February 4, 2001
- Cast: Colleen Dewhurst, Megan Follows, Richard Farnsworth
- Director: Kevin Sullivan
- Studio: Sullivan Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Curiosity, Empathy, Gratitude, Humility, Self-control
- Run time: 199 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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