Lately I have been ruminating on what makes Anne of Green Gables so appealing, what with all the talk of new versions of Anne and people’s initial reactions, mixed as they may be, and it was just this past weekend, while I was getting ready to catch up on shows that I had missed during the week, that it hit me: wholesomeness and emotion.
Let me back up and explain. I tend to watch a lot of crime dramas, dramas with espionage, forceful language and mind games. I look for rich acting, the intensity of it pulling me in and keeping me held fast. But looking at the queue of programming that I had before me it was startlingly obvious that everything tended towards violence; everything had some real world agenda: stopping terrorism, solving a murder, making billions of dollars by whatever means necessary. All things that literally could be pulled from news headlines that are chugged out over a 24 hour cycle, illustrating the harsh starkness of our current times. These shows were not an escape, but a reflection of how we now see our world, of the very reality of things. I enjoy them, but they don’t fulfill that emotional need that lies deep down inside all of us. And like a light bulb illuminating to light up an otherwise dark room I realized that what I was trying to put my finger on, what the appeal of Anne Of Green Gables is, is that she lives in a world where things are more simple. Or at least seem simpler.
Now that is not to say that back in the early 20th century (or late 19th century if you are going off the book) people didn’t have issues; they absolutely did. There was still poverty, births out of wedlock, murder and thievery. But the beauty of the world that L.M. Montgomery created, and that Kevin Sullivan brought to physical life in his film, was that while you knew these things were most likely happening in the world they were only briefly ,if at all, alluded to. Anne’s world is one of potential, of days filled with school and friends, hard work and laughter and yes sadness sometimes, because to be human is to be sad. Her world is filled with witty discussions about the difference between Protestants and Methodists and how appropriate it is to wear flowers on ones hat to Sunday School. Her world is one where an Orphan can be given the chance to be wanted and to thrive and grow and not have her indomitable spirit corrupted by the wider world with its harsh and vulgar realities.
The appeal of Anne of Green Gables is that while it does capture all that is wonderful and real about the human condition, it does it in such a way that is relatable and endearing. It’s a story that you remember always, that you want to share with your children because you know that what they are seeing is not meant to shock them, or remind them of world issues, but to entertain, amuse and connect with them on an emotional level.
I can honestly say that I haven’t found anything currently on television that does that for me, but I am content in the knowledge that I can draw upon the wholesomeness and emotional current of Anne of Green Gables when I really need it, to fulfill that place that we all have that just tires of seeing the harshness of the world and longs for something simple and true. That is the appeal of the Anne of Green Gables film and book and I think it will always be so.
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By Adriana Pacheco, Sullivan Entertainment