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Monday, September 24, 2018

"Anne of Green Gables" vs. "Anne with an E"



I'm binge-watching the PBS Wonderworks/Disney mini-series version of Anne of Green Gables. Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, and Richard Farnsworth were brilliant and the series was faithful to the book. It is the definitive version and truly perfect. There was never a need to remake the Lucy Maud Montgomery, who was by the way a pastor's wife. That matters in the telling of this story. 
For me, binging the original was a kind of way to flush the last few episodes of  "Anne with an E" out of my head. Once again, Big Hollywood has found a way to gay-up a lovely book with a Christian theme. I was so disappointed in "Anne with an E" from Netflix. they eliminated the pastor and his wife, they added gay characters and made Anne a budding militant feminist with a shrill temper. I don't think I can bear to see Mrs. Montgomery's work butchered by a lot of social engineering feminazis. 
While Lucy Montgomery was something of a progressive for her time, I'm pretty sure her progressivism was tucked safely in amongst her Christian values and principles. In some ways the Netflix Anne is rather closer to the Anne of the books, which actually gave me hope for the story. Unfortunately, the story very quickly veered off course into one of those social justice indoctrination pieces. It was sad because the director started off well.

Fortunately, PBS was respectful and the three editions of the story they produced were beautiful. My kids used to pile up for a weekend and we'd all binge watch the series on VHS. It was one of those rare films in which the parents and the kids all cry and laugh at the same places. 
Micah and Meg used to binge watch it by themselves sometimes. A couple of times Meg would pile up with her old man and watch it. She used to pick on me when I'd tear up over stuff. I couldn't help it though. It's so seldom that in a movie you see actual kindness and decency portrayed so well. When Matthew tells Marilla they should keep Anne even though she might not be of use to them, but because they "might do some good for her," my mushy old heart takes a joyful little leap. Of such moments, I believe, are our steps toward heaven made up.

My VHS tapes are growing fuzzy from being many times played and from being 25 years old. I'm going to look for the DVD versions and add them to my odd collection of films. Meanwhile, Anne and Gilbert (Jonathan Crombie) have walked off across the field together having settled their old feud. I never get tired of watching two people find each other in forgiveness. The tape is done rewinding now and I need to cue up the sequel and get a fresh hankie. This one's kinda soggy.

Thank you PBS and Wondework for such a beautiful and uplifting set of movies. And thank you, Megan, Colleen, Richard, and Jonathan for creating such wonderful characters.

© 2018 by Tom King

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