I must say, I am enjoying this worldwide Anne Boom we are currently experiencing!
Yes, I’ve had Anne Fanatics from as far away as Australia, England and even Korea weigh in on the new “Anne with an E” series, which debuted a mere ten days ago in the US but had already made a giant splash in my native Canada.
And woooweeee did people ever REACT. To the off-book changes. To a slightly darker, more “gritty” slant. And especially to the cast of characters not being played by Megan Follows, Jonathan Crombie, Colleen Dewhurst, and Richard Farnsworth!
As I said here, I revere everyone who drew breath in the 1985 and 1987 adaptations of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. (Witness: Just yesterday I felt quite faint upon hearing that a friend of mine had worked in a summer day camp with Jonathan Crombie. Quite faint! And it started out as a simple Sunday in May…)
But even upon hearing about the two new Annes, “Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables”, which premiered last February in Canada and this past Thanksgiving in the USA, and “Anne with an E”, I wanted to keep an open mind.
Therefore, I wasn’t quite prepared for the backlash that greeted “Anne with an E,” anyway. Oh, plenty of people slurped it right up like so much red currant wine, but many also vocalized their dismay.
Things got a little heated.
I got blocked on Twitter by a lady with some serious CRUST, and then got called “rude” for defending the right of another lady to disagree with me in liking the new series. YIKES! People have been kicked out of Anne groups for getting belligerent, while other people have vowed to “stay out of it”!
The fantastic news is that all of this swirling, white-hot, trending-on-twitter conversation has been about our 109-year-old Anne Girl.
Ain’t she somethin’?
So I thought I’d start a whole new brawl over here on my blog. Hey, I’ve gone almost a week without someone telling me off for my opinions on the new series, so it’s time to get a new talk going.
Say, let’s compare the four main characters in the three screen adaptations, K?
Starting with Anne, week by week, we’ll give a brief pro and con to each character and then I will conclude which one wins my vote for Best Portrayal of a Sacred AOGG Character.
And I’m starting a NEW contest, too. All comments will be entered in a NEW drawing to win a watercolor print of our Anne from the most kindred Etsy Shop, Carrot Top Paper Shop! Or, this watercolor print of Lucy Maud Montgomery, which is one of the dearest and loveliest renderings I have ever seen.
(The winner of the first contest will be announced soonish…)
Here goes. Are you ready to rumble, Anne Nuts?
1. Megan Follows, Anne of Green Gables, 1985
Pros: Megan (that’s “MEE-gan,” of course) was my first Anne, the one who I laughed with, cried with, and pictured as the one and only Anne through two or three rereadings of the books. I didn’t realize she was charming because she was just so real to me–plucky and vulnerable as she carried her tattered carpetbag “just the right way” from the train station; red-faced and enraged as she thwacked Gilbert Blythe over the head for his insensitive use of the term “Carrots”; filled with wonderment and tenderness as Matthew Cuthbert gave her the pined-for dream of puffed sleeves. Whip-smart, loyal, and prone to featherbrained shenanigans (Plum pudding, anyone? How about Liniment Cake?), Megan’s Anne delighted and fascinated me. She also made me laugh–a lot. One look at her ludicrously imperious face as she clung to a bridge piling after the Lady of Shallott fiasco, trying to avoid humiliation and drowning (in that order), and I still chuckle. Lucy Maud Montgomery was often hilarious–and not just in her Anne books. Megan’s Anne lived up to the laughter.
Cons: I never thought this before seeing the new Anne, but was she too charming, delightful and precocious? Did she “get over” eleven years of neglect and trauma too easily?
2. Ella Ballentine, “Lucy Maud Montgomery’s ‘Anne of Green Gables’, 2016
As I wrote here, I wasn’t overly enthused about this adaptation, but it wasn’t because of adorable Ella Ballantine.
I wrote: “…Ella is a younger Anne, and after all, Anne was eleven when she came to Green Gables. She’s sprightly and giggly and sad and vulnerable, and overall not a bad Anne, if you can get past the fact that she’s not Megan Follows. My eleven year old liked her as Anne, and I’m betting lots of other young girls will, too.”
Pros: If “Anne with an E” is Anne Dark, Ella Ballentine’s adaptation is Anne Light, sweet, utterly charming, and suitable for families with the youngest children to enjoy together. I did hear from a few folks who loved that about this version.
Cons: Compared to Amybeth McNulty’s Anne, and even Megan Follows’ Anne, this Anne seems a bit cotton candy-ish. Sweet and appealing for that moment when you crave something sweet and appealing. But the character definitely deserves some complexity and heft.
3. Amybeth McNulty, “Anne with an E,” 2017
Pros: It bothers me that people seem to be demanding that Anne is always adorable and charm-o-riffic, unscathed, unharmed from a hideous childhood which even the book says was one full of “poverty, drudgery, and neglect.” Viewers have called this Anne “crazy,” “bratty,” and other pejoratives. In a way, I get it. This Anne definitely has a few rough edges, which McNulty plays in absolutely compelling fashion. Her huge eyes convey sorrow, rejection, and a little soul battered by neglect. To me, her performance is daring and brave, salty and a tiny bit scary. She lets it all hang out as far as Anne’s damaged emotions and spirit, and not everyone loves to see their Anne with all her “dirty laundry” flapping in the breeze.
In one of my eight reviews of the new series, I wrote of McNulty’s Anne: “Her needfulness is stark, at times, and not always easy to watch. But true to Anne? Yes. Honestly, Anne is all the more powerful when her orphan roots are exposed, not glossed over and charmed up beyond recognition…Anne’s anxiety to be accepted is palpable. Knowing this about Anne makes her eventual bond with the Cuthberts that much more heartwarming and triumphant.”
This is Anne with visible wounds and cracks, but as Leonard Cohen said once, “there is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.” This Anne teaches me about her cracks and shines her light even brighter.
Cons: I’m all for harvesting nuance from each adaptation, but is this Anne too dark? Is she too melancholy and damaged and broken to really cut loose and make us laugh out loud?
For me, the Best Anne goes to…
Megan Follows. I appreciate winsome Ella, and truly was engrossed and intrigued by the wildly talented acting of Amybeth, but Megan’s Anne made me laugh on top of everything else, and in my book, she takes the (liniment) cake!
Who is YOUR favorite Anne and why?
NEW BLOG: Who played DIANA best? https://bit.ly/2yyR5Rq
Tell me below, respectfully, of course, and we can all talk about Anne, Anne, ANNE until the cows come home (or they get let out of the pasture by mistake!)
Every comment on my blog from now until my “Who is the Best “Anne”?” blog series is done in four weeks will be entered in a contest to win a fetching Anne of Green Gables art piece or frameable quote from my favorite Etsy shop, Carrot Top Paper Shop!