The Anne of Green Gables series is essentially the Pride and Prejudice of Canada with Gilbert Blythe and Anne Shirley being treated like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in all the girls minds. Girls from England want the Mr. Darcy to marry and Canadians want Gilbert Blythe to marry. American girls look at William Jasper Collins as the perfect guy( just kidding, I guess that is just me) to marry.
There have been many portrayals of this beloved character from the Anne of Green Gables series written by Lucy Maud( without an e) Montgomery. With the new Netflix series coming out on May 12 I thought it was best to do a review on the many different actresses that have portrayed her in the past years. First let’s look at all the descriptions we have of Anne and compare the looks of the actresses to the character Anne.
This is the first description we receive about her and therefore is the most trustworthy since it is from the author herself about Anne rather than another character about Anne. Rachel Lynde also has an opinion on the looks of Anne, but what Rachel says should be taken with a grain of salt since she is a nosey busybody and her opinions are usually wrong in the books.“She’s terrible skinny and homely, Marilla. Come here, child, and let me have a look at you. Lawful heart, did any one ever see such freckles? And hair as red as carrots! Come here, child, I say.”
The other factor is that the hottest boy in school, for that is what Gilbert was thought Anne was cute and teased her to try to get close to her. A note on Gilbert, he also was a year older than everyone in school because he was held back one year.
So, although Anne may have a terrible opinion of her looks, she was not in fact, ugly even though she may have not been the one to stand out in a crowd for her looks except maybe for her red hair.
It is also commonly accepted that Anne’s illustration on the front cover of one of the original books was a drawing of Gibson Girl, Evelyn Nesbit. This lady was an actress and a model and was known for her beauty so at least in later years we can expect that Anne herself was very beautiful.
So, now on to all the actresses who portrayed this beloved character?
Unfortunately, this silent film was lost and so no one knows how well this actress could have played Anne’s character.
Anne Shirley as Anne Shirley and Tom Brown as Gilbert Blythe (1934)
This black and white film did an okay portrayal of Anne and gilbert even though the story tried to combine too many things into one story. She is also the first portrayal I saw of Anne on film. There is now a colorized version of this film you can buy. There was a sequel to this film made in 1940 and it had Anne Shirley still play Anne Shirley but the Gilbert actor changed to Patric Knowles. (The sequel is essentially lost because there is no official copies left, but there may be some that people have because they taped it from tv, my family has a copy.)
The next film was the first one actually made by the Canadians with William Cole as Gilbert Blythe and Toby Tarnow as Anne Shirley. The film is still in existence as clips of it were used in "Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Many Mauds", an episode of the 1996 CBC Life & Times documentary.
In 1957, a French version of Anne Shirley was made and I cannot seem to find any real pictures of that film. But the actress was Mirielle Lachance and Gilbert was Hervé Brousseau.
In 1958, Kathy Willard played Anne.
In 1952, a six part tv series was released and is now thought to be lost.
Carole Lorimer played Anne and David Spenser played Gilbert.
In 1972, tv series was created by BBC with Kim Braden as Anne and there was also a sequel series called Anne of Avonlea. Anne of Green Gables the tv series was lost but the Anne of Anvolea series can still be bought. I like this series a lot because it was able to touch on other aspects that the movies missed and bring in some of my chacters who were my favorite from the books but were really over looked. So, I really treasure this sequel series and wish I could watch the original and not just the sequel. Christopher Blake played Gilbert Blythe.
Then in 1985, the Sullivan films began. Megan Follows played Anne Shirley and Jonathan Crombie played Gilbert Blythe, these two are still the best loved by fans and are the standard that most fans look to when describing the perfect Anne and Gilbert. I loved the first film and I loved the actors but the next film was only okay and the third film missed the mark. For me you need a mixture of the Sullivan films, the Kim Braden version and the black and white version to get the whole mix of Anne.
Because of large problems with copyright and other issues the last of the three Sullivan films with Jonathan Crombie and Megan Follows was filmed and released in 2000, which is around 15 years after the other two.
A few years later in 2008, Sullivan decided he wanted to make more Anne movies so he made a prequel called: Anne of Green Gables a New Beginning. This prequel starred two Annes, and older and younger Anne. The actresses were Hannah Endicott-Douglas as Young Anne and Barbara Hershey as old Anne. Gilbert Blythe died and Anne was thinking about old times. Since I have never watched this version I cannot say much.
In 2007, Sri Lanka decided to make their own Anne film. Since this film shows Anne growing up there are two Annes in this film as well. The two actresses were: Vinuri Ramanayake as Anne Shirley and Poorni Kamaladiwela as Older Anne Shirley.
There was even a modern version of Anne of Green Gables made and even though it is not strictly a film or tv version, but instead a web series with a twitter page and YouTube channel and a Tumblr page, I just had to include it. This modern version is not half bad and even had a second series because fans enjoyed it. The series is called Green Gables Fables.
There is a second modern adaption made by Finland and it is called Project Green Gables. The story is conveyed in the form of vlogs. It is a modern adaptation of Anne, and many of the elements in it have been changed to better suit 21st-century culture. Laura Eklund Nhaga plays Anne.
Anne and Gilbert (note the stage musical of Anne is called this as well.) was also a themed episode of a show called Kissing in the Rain in 2014 on YouTube. Sean Persaud played Gilbert Blythe and Mary Kate Wiles played Anne of Green Gables.
In fact, I have images of the guy who should have played Gilbert Blythe in that film.
The next series which we are expecting of Anne of Green Gables is the Netflix series coming on May 12, 2017 and a musical version of Anne coming on DVD soon. The Netflix series is going to be a dark and gritty interpretation of the books including Anne getting bullied in school and that word I hate…..feminism. Anne in the books would have never gotten bullied by anyone since she hit Gilbert over the head with her chalkboard and she had tons of friends in school. Also, no one thought she couldn’t do something because she was a girl; she was one of the smartest in their class. The only girls who did something to her were just jealous because Gilbert Blythe liked her, but I would never say they bullied her. Anne Shirley is played by Amybeth McNulty and Gilbert Blythe is played by Lucas Jade Zumann.
That link is the trailer. So, in essence I think the Netflix series will be a very bad adaptation of this beloved series. Updated: Canadians already get to watch it and most of them say it is not as bad as the trailer makes it seem, so, plus there. That line,''Girls can do anything boys can do and better'' terrified me. It is such a stupid line and not something I feel like Anne would ever say, plus, they wanted someone to do farm work, Anne couldn't do that and they hired a boy to help out in the book. Strength wise boys would be better at the hard farm work then a girl that is just sense so, that line is incorrect anyway. I will update again when I have watched the show and review it myself, I hope the Canadians are right.
What do you guys think?