Growing up I was a huge fan of L.M. Montgomery’s series of books about Anne of Green Gables. I read the whole series as well as all the follow up books. They were absolute childhood favourites of mine. Recently I discovered that Netflix had made a TV series about Anne’s adventures. I was extremely sceptical because the books were so perfect but I decided to give it a go anyway.
Marilla (Geraldine James) and Matthew (R. H. Thomson) Cuthbert are an ageing brother and sister who own a farm on Prince Edward Island in early 1900’s Canada. Matthew’s health is failing so the pair decide to adopt an orphan boy to run the farm. Something is lost in translation though and instead they are presented with a freckly redheaded girl named, Anne (Amybeth McNulty). Anne’s spent her life being passed from pillar to post, partly because of her endless capacity to talk, her enormous vocabulary and her tendency to get lost in her highly imaginative flights of fancy.
Now the practical pair will have to decide exactly what to do with Anne and Anne will have to figure out how to fit into the somewhat hierarchical and puritanical Avonlea.
Straight off the bat, this interpretation is rather different from the books. it injects quite a bit more drama into Anne’s experiences. It also adds a darker element. In the books Anne’s past and the trauma she may have experienced growing up in an orphanage isn’t really explored but here there are regular flashbacks to her past life.
A lot of die hard fans seem to be very unhappy with the changes but I think they work for TV where you don’t have the luxury of gentle, lingering prose. For me the essence stayed intact. Anne’s fiery spirit and exuberance remains, as does her powerful friendship with her classmate, Diana (Dalila Bela) and rivalry with Gilbert Blythe (Lucas Jade Zumann). The best part though is how her relationships build with the unfussy, pragmatic, Marilla and the almost silent but endlessly kind, Matthew.
The performances are nothing short of magical and the energy that McNulty puts into her portrayal of Anne is admirable. I felt like I knew Anne like a personal friend, much how the books made me feel. Thomson and James are a perfect match for Matthew and Marilla. They are so different from each other, yet so comfortable in each other’s presence with a natural chemistry. I loved how they both naturally opened up and connected to Anne, If those connections were not spot on, nothing about the series would work.
Aside from this the costumes are excellent, the scenery is beautiful and I loved seeing how a household from that time might run.
I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I loved it.