Anne of Green Gables

  • Review Date: July 29, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1986
  • Running Time: 199 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Faithful, sensitive take on classic novel is great for kids.
  • Review Date: July 29, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1986
  • Running Time: 199 minutes





What parents need to know

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.

Positive role models

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).

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this generally very faithful adaptation of L.M. Montgomery's beloved novel about red-headed orphan Anne Shirley 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.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In this 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 Mathew (Richard Farnsworth) expected a boy -- someone who could take on much of the work at their farm. While Anne quickly wins Mathew 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?


Gorgeous to look at and brimming with simple truths about love, friendship, and family, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES has been adapted several times, but this version 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. Follows 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 he 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Anne. 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 10, 1986
DVD release date:February 4, 2001
Cast:Colleen Dewhurst, Megan Follows, Richard Farnsworth
Director:Kevin Sullivan
Studio:Sullivan Entertainment
Topics:Book characters, Friendship, Great girl role models
Run time:199 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Anne of Green Gables was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byfirmbeliever65 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Kid, 8 years old September 26, 2009

Good movie

Marilla is not very nice at the beginning, y'know. Matthew is wonderful, and so nice. Anne Shirley has a temper, does not like her red hair, but she's a wonderful girl! Her red hair makes her pretty, (but I like my brown hair) and Gilbert is nice. It's shame Matthew has to die. The movie is wonderful! (It's fake, too, there's no real true story of that, It's all fake)
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written bymyab October 14, 2010

Gentle Movie With Wonderful Messages

My family watched this last year when my daughter and I were reading the book together. She absolutely adored it, so much so that we had to get the follow up movie immediately. Even my husband and older son got caught up in the story. Wonderful movie about the importance of being yourself, of family love and acceptance, of friendship, and ultimately of learning to know and love yourself.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide