My take on the Anne of Green Gables reboot may surprise some of you.
When the news broke yesterday that there would be a new 8 hours of AOGG to air on the CBC in 2017, there was a flurry of posts, many of them decrying the new project, sight unseen.
But I am not one of those people condemning it.
Obviously, I’m a huge fan. See:
Anne is my literary kindred spirit and mentor, and Gilbert is my #1 Lifetime Book Crush, which is understating how I feel about him. Should he appear at the door in some sort of time/space/book/reality continuum, it’s all over between me and my husband of 24 years. Obviously. (He is clear on these terms–my husband, not Gilbert Blythe.)
I adore the lustrous 1985 Sullivan miniseries, which I think was perfectly cast and–the first few hours–near flawlessly executed. When I picture Anne and Gilbert, I picture Megan Followes and Jonathan Crombie (upon his death in April, it felt like I had lost my first love, a feeling shared by hundreds of thousands of fans). That movie will stand the test of time.
And yet. Here are 7 reasons why I welcome the news of a fresh adaptation:
1. I don’t see this new miniseries as a replacement or even a reboot, but rather another treatment and retelling.
2. Surely a story as strong as Anne’s deserves many interpretations and interactions; if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t have written my Anne-braided memoir. My emphasis was Anne as orphan, and Maud as orphan, too. Other wonderful writers have written about different themes that mean the most to them.
3. I am excited to see what a truly gifted writer such as Moira-Walley Beckett will do with Lucy Maud Montgomery’s luscious words and delectable storytelling. (I use foodie types of adjectives here because for me, this book is a feast.) And Walley-Beckett is my Canadian sister! As cherished as AOGG is in these United States, in Canada it is near sacred.
“But, but, but!!!” Many of you are sputtering, I know. “You can’t improve on perfection!”
That’s not what’s happening here, in my view.
4. New interpretations should be welcome to those with a big scope for the imagination:
The 1985 film may stand as THE adaptation forevermore, but I welcome other storytellers sharing what inspires, delights, intrigues and provokes them most about Anne and company.
5. I will always find irresistible the cast of the 1985 movie: Megan and Jonathan, Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farnsworth, Schuyler Grant etc.
Heck, I pretty much revere anyone who drew breath in that movie, which was proven when I accosted Mag Ruffman (Olivia in Road to Avonlea and Alice Lawson, the shopgirl in AOGG from whom Matthew purloined the 20 pounds of brown sugar and the garden rake ) on MY HONEYMOON in Banff in 1991.
As you can imagine, spotting such a personage walking down the street sent me into an alarming tizzy (I say “alarming” because both my groom and Olivia, er, Mag Ruffman, were alarmed by my delirious behaviour, CDN spelling!).
My utter devotion to the classic doesn’t undermine my desire to see what this “Breaking Bad” and “Flesh and Bone” writer will do.
Yes, Walley-Beckett’s shows are R rated, but that doesn’t mean she can’t write for a general audience.
6: A darker, more realistic Anne?
I’d love to see her go darker with Anne. Anne was a damaged, broken child when she came to Green Gables, after all.
Walley-Beckett said: “Anne’s issues are contemporary issues: feminism, prejudice, bullying and a desire to belong.”
“The stakes are high and her emotional journey is tumultuous.”
7: Maybe, probably, her version will highlight stories and characters that the first miniseries omitted. There are dozens of heavenly stories and characters I would welcome watching in a film adaptation. Phil! Captain Jim! Leslie! And the list puffs up like Anne’s sleeves.
Our beloved Anne Girl has so many layers to her; her story countless important themes. I was honored to write about just one of them: the desire to belong.
What will Walley-Beckett and her team bring to our collective understanding of these permanent, permeating characters and their undying stories?
I for one can’t wait to find out.