Book vs. Movie: Anne of Green Gables in Film & TV (1934, 1985, 2016, 2017)

Since 1908, Anne of Green Gables has
captivated the hearts of readers young and old. Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery took inspiration from her own childhood on Prince Edward Island in creating Anne Shirley and the fictional town of Avonlea. Anne of Green Gables became a huge success, so much so that Montgomery went on to write a series of sequels over the next several decades. Anne has become the subject of numerous
television and film adaptations so let’s dive right in with four notable versions of her story. This is Anne of Green Gables: By the Book. (“Wiener Blut” by Johann Strauss II) “Carrots. Carrots.” “You mean, hateful boy!” “Ow!” “How dare you!” RKO Pictures released one of the
earliest film adaptations of Anne of Green Gables in 1934, starring Dawn O’Day. As part of a publicity stunt, the actress legally changed her name to Anne Shirley for the rest of her career. The film starts off adhering to the
overall plot, from the beginning of the novel leading up to chapter 15. “How dare you say I’m skinny, and how dare you say I’m redheaded? You’re an impolite, rude, unfeeling woman,
and I hate you!” At the halfway point in the film, it starts veering away from the book and focuses on setting up the relationship between Anne and Gilbert. Once we get to the incident at the pond, the film completely diverges from the
novel in true Hollywood fashion. “I want you to be my girl.” Matthew gets a new backstory in the form
of a fiancee who had run away with Gilbert’s father. This turns Anne and
Gilbert’s relationship into a sort of star-crossed romance, especially when
Marilla forces Anne to break up with Gilbert. After Anne goes off to college,
she later finds out that Matthew is ill and that they can’t afford the medical
specialist, who Gilbert just so happens to be studying with. Can you guess how this ends? Matthew does not die in the film and
Marilla gives her approval of Gilbert and Anne’s relationship. With these major plot changes, other modifications in the film seem minor in comparison, like the amalgamation of Rachel Lynde and Mrs. Barry into one character. Ultimately, the film focuses on how Anne finds a family and a home at Green Gables. Rather than trying to fit in all of her adventures, it cherry-picks a few moments from the
novel and then adds in a host of new scenes to fit their romantic storyline. Montgomery herself commented on this production saying: “On the whole, it is not a bad picture. At least the first two-thirds. The last third is a silly sentimental commonplace end tacked on for the sake of rounding it up as a love story.” “Hey, carrots. Carrots!” “How dare you!” The immensely popular 1985 TV film
adaptation of Anne of Green Gables originally aired on CBC as a two-part
miniseries. Starring Megan Follows, this adaptation is one of the most beloved screen versions of the novel and has been seen in more than 140 countries. The director, Kevin Sullivan, initially faced the pressure of remaining faithful to the novel while also creating a version of the story that would connect with the modern-day audience. For the most part, the characters are true to how they are described in the novel but the director does take some liberties for dramatic effect. Fans of the adaptation will be familiar
with the scene where Matthew works up the courage to buy Anne a dress with
puffed sleeves. In the novel, however, Matthew originally gives up at the store and ends up asking Mrs. Lynde for help. The scene where Anne tries on the dress
and races out to the barn to embrace Matthew is also a change from the novel, as well as the dress being light blue instead of brown. This adaptation also
takes inspiration from the 1934 film particularly in emphasizing Gilbert’s
role in the story. In the novel, Anne’s rivalry with Gilbert pushes her to excel academically. In the adaptation, Gilbert is shown to be a catalyst for many of Anne’s actions. Anne is repeatedly shown to make
decisions based on Gilbert’s opinion of her, whether it concerns her appearance,
behavior, or academic standing. “Of course you would take the long route
when you sprained your ankle.” “I wouldn’t think of giving Gilbert Blythe the
satisfaction of helping me.” Tennyson’s poems are also used as a way to introduce Anne as a romantic heroine and parallel her relationship with Gilbert. “Anne Shirley.” At the beginning of the film, Anne is already seen reciting the Lady of Shalott, which isn’t mentioned in the novel until much later. This scene also gives us a
glimpse of Anne’s life before Green Gables. The 1985 adaptation accentuates
the romance aspect of the coming-of-age story. In creating this version of Anne of Green Gables, the director tried to stay true to the core story and characters while creating a new interpretation that inspired others to emulate the
passionate, intelligent, and imaginative Anne. “Ding-dong. Well, hello there, carrots.” “How dare you?” “Hey, hey, don’t go haywire. I was only trying to get your attention.” “You are a mean and hateful boy and I won’t ever forgive you.” Over 30 years later, Anne’s story was
brought to life again in the YTV adaptation with Montgomery’s own granddaughter as the executive producer. Starring Ella Ballentine as Anne Shirley,
this adaptation actually encompasses three films. The first film centers on the question of whether the Cuthberts will keep Anne or not. The second film focuses more on Anne’s friendships, minimizing her competitiveness and
making her friends with Gilbert instead “You saved me.” “My honor to oblige, Miss Shirley.” “Anne will do.” This seems to cause a lack of continuity with the third film, in which Anne goes to college. “I read the wrong book. Let go of me!” “I didn’t mean to.” “No, you didn’t mean to, you’re just so competitive!” Aimed at a younger audience, the films include a load of new scenes intended to add more humor and drama. Although the adaptation is true to the
novel at times, it unexpectedly makes major changes, like cutting short the
scene where Anne climbs up on the roof and adding a new scene where
Anne walks out on thin ice. The main characters are also quite different from how they are described in the novel. “I’ve never heard you be so loquacious.” “Lo-what?” “You talk too much, finish your stew.” We see an energetic and talkative Matthew, while Marilla seems more motherly than stern. Many of the behaviors and interactions between the characters are more reminiscent of today’s teen sitcoms. Subtle moments from the novel are over-explained in the film. In the book, for instance, Matthew gets a dress for Anne after noticing that she is dressed more plainly than the other girls. In the film, Anne basically asks
Matthew for the dress, which diminishes the emotional impact of the gift. “Remember the dress I was telling you about? Diana already sent away for one just like it.” This retelling of the original story is
definitely a contemporary one, even if the clothes and dialogue are from the turn of the 20th century. In the end, the three films that make up this adaptation focus on Anne’s friendships as she grows up, with more emphasis on the connections formed between Anne, Matthew, and Marilla. “Carrots.” “I’m not talking to you!” “You just did.” Around at the same time as the previous
adaptation, Netflix and CBC started working on a darker reboot of Anne of Green Gables. Starring Amybeth McNulty, the first season of Anne with an E debuted in 2017 to mixed reviews. Some criticized the reinterpretation of Anne as a traumatized and abused child, while others appreciated how the series depicted more realistic situations and addressed current social issues. A radical departure from the sunny and optimistic tone of the original novel, the series starts off with harrowing flashbacks that show Anne’s troubled past, only to be followed by more tragedy. In the first two episodes, Anne experiences additional emotional trauma when Marilla sends her away after the assumed theft of the infamous brooch. Matthew literally races against time to
bring Anne back, getting a concussion in the process. None of this happens in the book. Once Anne is back at Green Gables, however, things can’t stay happy for long. The issues of bullying, misogyny, and prejudice are introduced through major
changes to the characters and the plot. “If the girl doesn’t want to go to school,
then she shouldn’t go. She should stay home and learn proper housekeeping until she marries.” Although Anne finds a friend in Diana, she
is immediately targeted on her first day of school. Gilbert, of course, is one of the few nice students in school and makes his first appearance when he comes to Anne’s rescue in the woods. Unlike the character in the novel, this
Gilbert is less mischievous and teasing but rather more suave and seems older
than his years. “I don’t care where she’s from.
A cute girl is a cute girl.” As his father’s caretaker, we don’t see too much of Gilbert before the series kills off John Blythe. Instead of becoming academic rivals, Anne and Gilbert now bond over their losses. In one of the biggest twists of the series,
Gilbert eventually leaves Avonlea to work on a steamer ship and ends up in
Trinidad before returning home. Anne also finds a friend in Jerry, the hired boy that helps Matthew with farm work around Green Gables. His existence is true to the novel, but he gets a completely new storyline. We’ve already established Anne to be intelligent and resourceful, but the series takes it a step further with new scenes like Anne running into a burning house to help put out the fire. Marilla and Matthew also get their share of flashbacks to their past. Matthew’s character is fundamentally changed with a sad backstory and a new love interest. His suicide attempt might be a nod to the author who tried rewriting her past but in reality, suffered from depression and may have taken her own life. The show departs even further from the novel in season two, especially with the addition of completely new characters and events. These changes to the plot and characters paint a bleak picture of what life would have been like growing up in the Edwardian era. Anne with an E ventures into new territory, turning the originally cozy story into a gritty drama that discusses feminism, diversity, puberty, and the unconventional
lifestyles of the early 20th century. Despite the different approaches of
these adaptations, there’s no doubt that each rendition of Anne Shirley is pretty easy to recognize. Lucy Maud Montgomery often described her characters in great detail. At the beginning of the novel, Anne Shirley is about 11 years old and has “two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair.” “Her face was small, white and thin,
also much freckled.” Her big eyes “were full of spirit and vivacity.” By the end of the novel, Anne’s red hair has darkened to auburn and although she becomes a little less talkative, she’s still as contemplative as ever. Marilla Cuthbert is all angles and straight lines with a wry sense of humor and a loving heart underneath her stern exterior. By the end of the novel, we see Marilla become more mellow and expressive. Matthew Cuthbert is 60 at the beginning of the book. “He was an odd-looking personage with an ungainly figure and long iron-gray hair that touched his stooping shoulders.” Despite his shy nature, he doesn’t hesitate to show kindness and love to Anne. Diana Barry is the same age as Anne and has black eyes and hair, rosy cheeks, and a merry expression. When Anne first meets Diana, she is sitting on the sofa reading a book. A true friend and kindred spirit, Diana loyally supports Anne through all of their misadventures. Gilbert Blythe, Anne’s academic rival and eventual love interest, is two years older and as Diana says, “aw’fly handsome.” “He was a tall boy, with curly brown hair, roguish hazel eyes, and a mouth twisted into a teasing smile.” Anne and Gilbert become friends by the end of the first novel. Throughout the many adaptations of Anne of Green Gables, from films to animated TV shows to
musicals, one thing is clear: this simple innocent
story still resonates with audiences. Each director and screenwriter took
inspiration from the source material to inform their own perception of Anne but
no matter the interpretation, the core story is about a girl who appreciates the little things in life, who works hard and speaks her mind, who looks for the beauty in the world, and believes that anything is possible with enough confidence, persistence, and scope for imagination. Which adaptation of Anne of
Green Gables is your favorite? Thanks for watching!

100 thoughts on “Book vs. Movie: Anne of Green Gables in Film & TV (1934, 1985, 2016, 2017)

  1. I watched the 1985 version when I was younger and I liked it and I re-watched it this year, and fell completely in love with it! Amazing chemistry between characters and beautiful ambiance. I tried to get into 2017 version but I couldn't even get through the first season. And although I thought the casting was perfect it felt very empty to me. As a reader and a writer I enjoy realism but the more I see it in modern media and literature It feels like they're pushing this message that in order for something to be "real" it has to be dark, gritty, and depressing.

  2. One of my favorite books of all time. Megan Follows was phenomenal as Anne. Hands down my favorite theatrical rendition.💗💗

  3. Hands down. 1985. We watch it regularly. My girls love it too. Although my youngest prefers the Gilbert from the 2017 version. 😂

  4. 1985 is the GOAT. ❤️🥰❤️
    1934 was pretty good.
    2016 never saw, looks/sounds like a 👎🏼 modern teen drama in period costume.
    2017 liked it at first, thought it brave to look at the likely realistic darker side of Anne’s life but then it just got weird and jumped off the deep end. 👎🏼👎🏼

  5. The 1985 version will always be my favourite, Megan Follows will always be Anne to me. But I gotta say I am really loving the Netflix remake. I love the fresh take, and the realism. People talk about the abuse that Anne goes through, etc. But even in the Megan Follows version, Anne talks about abusive environments she was in. Although its subtle, its still there. Anne grew up in orphanages and unloving homes. Its quite realistic for her to have gone through bullying and abuse. I also love the fact it goes into the different issues of that era.

  6. I adore Anne with an E, but my previous experience with the story is surprisingly limited. I don't remember ever reading the books or watching the films and shows my peers remember.

  7. I love the newest version, its one of those shows I even got my bf to like 😂 although I watched the 80s version as a kid and enjoyed it. But I think I like the newest version because of that gritty realism as I LOVE history.

  8. I adored the Megan Follows version of Anne, and Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert definitely the closest to the book. Somehow this version had more fun to it, and innocence, and just beautifully filmed.

  9. I have never seen the Netflix versions. Are they still in production? I also liked the 3 films starring Martin Sheen as Matthew. They were pretty decent.

  10. The problem with the new series is that I don't need Anne to address social (or not so current) social issues. Current and new tv show stories can address that if they want. I just want the story of the books—why do they always have to change the story. 🙄

  11. 1985 is not only the best, but the only one that should be watched. The Netflix adaptation is pure garbage contaminated with SJW and Feminist propaganda that have nothing to do with the original story. It's so bad it's embarrassing to watch

  12. Anne with an E is absolutely horrid in the dark themes it pushes (molestation, menstration, feminism and the LBGT agenda). Definitely not a show you want your young daughter watching. I'll stick to the 1985 version which is by far the best.

  13. I was so disappointed about 2017 version! I love the actors, really love Anne, but the plot goes so far away from the original books! Such a waste of talented actors and beautiful set!

  14. All these comments bashing the 2017 version but shouldn’t all the Anne of green gables fans support every adaption? Or am I mistaken? It’s all the same characters after all and I don’t think we should go against eachother just because we prefer one of the adaptations over the other .

  15. 3:06 were slates really that fragile that it would just break like that. I thought it would've just broke and stayed on his neck. Not just break like that. I can't really describe it

  16. What about this version from 1979?
    More info:

  17. This commentary is so well done! Thank you!! I like how the 1985 version is closer to the book. We read the series out loud as a family and enjoyed it so much. As usually is the case, the books are best.

  18. My favorite is 2017 version. It seems to be more realistic (come on, how terrible it would be for an orphan if foster parents wanted to send her away because she is a girl?) and in my opinion more mature. 1985 adaptation for me is like for children. I saw it when I was young and I liked it very much and I still think every child will like it. But for adults 2017 is much better. It addresses interesting problems (which I'm sure were present then like they are present now) and it shows reality the way it is – mix of good and bad things.

  19. Okay, I think we can all agree that Megan Follows was the best Anne and the whole cast from the 1985 series was the best.

  20. I think the Netflix Anne is an absolute insult to the AofGG community. I have been to PEI, toured Green Gables, and drunk raspberry cordial. I know my Anne! Netflix needs to just leave Anne alone.
    Megan Follows is the only Anne!

  21. My favorite is Anne With an E, from Netflix… it is much more realistic then the even the novel. There is so much added to the way life was at the time and the character development being subtle but amazing.

  22. I'm a sucker for an Anne adaptation. I actually like all the versions mentioned here. My favorite is the Megan Follows version because she's so perfect as the character and speaks the eloquent and witty lines with so much confidence while still having a spunky determined brash side. I think Amybeth and Ella both bring a lot of those qualities to the role as well and I particularly love Amybeth's resilience and optimism in the face of having experienced horrible things, and while not as well-regarded Ella's version's got a great sense of being Anne since she embodies a very friendly personality that welcomes others.

  23. I am only 15, and my dad bought me the complete anne of green gables series when I was 11. As you could probably guess, I wasn't much interested and only read half of the first book. But I'm so glad I picked it up again and finished the whole series. These books will always be close to my heart and I absolutely adore Anne with an E ❤

  24. I loved the 1985 version and Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farnsworth. I loved the sweetness of the story and the beautiful cinematography. I can appreciate that it was not very realistic but does it need to be? I have made it through about 8 episodes of the newer one, and the actors are fine but it is not the story I want to hear.

  25. I am not sure (no hate please) but the 2017 version is based on the book so it doesn't have to be the same. I haven't watched the 1985 version but I am reading the books. I can say that anne with an e has a lot of changes from the books like gilbert's dad dead but those changes were made for more backstory (i don't know if that is the correct expression). I can relate with been angry with companies changing the original story but I like the 2017 version because it has that vibe that tells you that it may happened irl. Now I have to watch the 1985 version and complete my opinion but in general like the story is amazing. Also, the new Gilbert is super cute. No hate please is only my opinion. If there are any mistakes I am sorry, I am not native english speaker.

  26. I absolutely love this story. In my opinion, the 2017 version and 1985 version are the best, both in different ways, but both amazing. I think Anne with an E is the most realistic and interesting version, more suited for modern audiences. I also think the actors looks are the most truthful to the original story in Anne with an E. The 1980s version is more upbeat and true to the original storyline, and was well suited for that time period. I think it funny that my mum actually loves the 80s TV show, and she was a teenager when it came out, and now I absolutely love Anne with an E, and I’m a teenager.

  27. I think that all the Anne movies made by Sullivan Entertainment were excellent, especially the first one since it deviated very little from the original. Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie captured the characters perfectly. Matthew and Marilla were also exactly as they were in the books. Especially Marilla. Absolutely amazing acting. I also loved how in the Sequel they weaved plotlines from several other books. The third movie was captivating however I would have loved to see Annes family, her children and the Rainbow valley. Maybe someday someone will make an actual TV-series as close to original as possible… I can imagine, though, that it might not be interesting for younger audiences.. Because nothing EXCITING happens. But.. I would love to see the whole story on TV.

    I was not very please with Netflix Anne with and E at the beginning, but I like it now. Kind of darker turn on things. Maybe more realistic? Considering all the hardships Anne went through in her childhood. I must have left a trauma…

  28. I grew up watching the 1985 version (as did most of us) after reading the books, but it never felt right to me. Now, as I watch Anne with an A on Netflix, I LOVE it. The characters feel truer to how I remember them. Anne's trauma was I think never explicit in the books, just hinted at, but seemed washed completely away in other versions, and is now right there, unhidden. I love the new show so much! Marilla and Matthew also look more as I had pictured the characters — finally someone got Matthew's hair right!

  29. I've seen all but the 2017 (third version). The 1934, pretty marginal, 1985 the very best, the third, just doesn't appeal to me (actors don't appear worthy), Anne with an E on Netflix is VERY good! The young actress is as endearing and talented as Megan Follows, but will she be able to play a cut-throat conniving Catherine De Medici in her late 40's, time will tell.

  30. I happily dismissed Anne of GB through out my life as romantic nonsense (although I instead I watched anime like candy-candy.) However, when my wife and daughter started to watch Anne with an E was was truly captivated. What a storytelling masterpiece it is! We're really looking forward to the next season and more character progression! She's a hero and a role model! 🙂

  31. I don't remember which movie it was but I just didn't like the Anne of Green Gables movie which made it seem there was such a thing as "Child Services" in the mid-to late 1800s.

  32. The 2017 departed so much from the book you can hardly recognize it so why release it as an adaptation rather than an original story instead? Such a today’s crowd pleaser it’s lost the heart of the orginal story and characters. I prefer the 1985 and 2016, theyre more faithful to the book.

  33. I was very cautious when watching Anne with an E for the first time because the things that bothered me the most about previous adaptation were changes they made to the original story which I adore. But it turns out that I do love this more “realistic“ take on this time period because it fully plays out stories and issues that Lucy Maud Montgomery only hinted at in the books. And yet the interpretation of the characters is very close to how I understand them from reading the book.

  34. In my mind: The books are perfection as a jumping off point. The 1985 adaptation will always be my first thought when I hear 'Anne of Green Gables', the casting was spot on, and it has the most influence on pop culture image of Anne and her world. But the new series is exactly that – new. It's modern. We have the book, the 1985 movie, and the various other adaptations that will always exist, and simply recreating those would be redundant at this point. I'm a modern woman, I grew up on Anne as she was in the books and as Megan Follows, but I love watching AnnE. I like seeing the story elements moved and twisted around so I don't quite know what's going to happen, even though it's a hundred year old story. I like seeing gay representation added in – gay people existed back then, even if they weren't written into the novel originally! The show is it's own thing, hence not being called "Anne of Green Gables" and instead "Anne with an E". My only complaint is that I wish Gilbert was more mischievous. That's it.

  35. Nicely done. Thanks for doing this video.
    1985 and 2017 are my preference, right behind the books themselves. I find that no interpretation can ever beat the actual author's vision in her books. Fyi Amanda Tapping directed some of Anne with an E episodes.

  36. I just completed the fifth book from the series and I came here to know which one of the adaptation I should watch . Not disappointed at all . I've decided to watch the 1985 one and the 2017 one . The 1985 one because from all the comments and a few video edits that I've watched, it seems to be more accurate to the book. And 2017 one because again of the edits I've seen of Anne and Gilbert, it seems that the actors created some sort of chemistry between them, which absolutely tingled my romantic senses XD , if that makes any sense . Either way thank you for the video ❤️

  37. I like Anne of Green Gable's movie trillogy (1985&1987&2000). Other versions don't mean to me. I was growing up with 1985 version and during the 2000's in Poland that trillogy was played on tv channels over and over again so I was growing up with that version and its very close to my heart. Btw role of Anne Shirley was meant for Megan Follows. Really, I see at these other girl from other versions and they are nothing to her. Megan follows was born to take this role

  38. Anne with an E is such an amazing and heartwarming show even though it doesn't follow the book as much. I've recently started reading the book, and I just see Amybeth as anne more than Meghan follows (her looks, the way she speaks, etc) and Anne with an E builds on the story in such a good way and expands the story past the book. However, I did enjoy the 1985 version very much! Both of them are very special in their own right.

  39. The best version would be the 80's script mildly adapted to be truer to books and modern styles of acting that have genuine-seeming tempers and feel less like a script and more like observing the story. While 'Anne with an E' has a better acting style (to fit Anne specifically), the story feels like they're going out of their way to inject modern social issues.

  40. I really love Anne with an E, but I have to admit Gilbert is too mature to the point of being boring. But the actress who plays Anne has the best interpretation of her by far. No one else caught the melodrama and passion for romanticism of stories and nature quite like her

  41. I don’t mind the darker tone of Anne with an E because realistically she would have had a hard life before coming to live with Marilla and Matthew.

  42. I love the 1985 version. Anne reminds me of my first wife. May she rest in peace. And I love Farnsworth as Matthew. I like how he loved her from the ride home and had her back

  43. I really liked the cast for the 2017, but wow, the story-line eventually goes off the rails, especially the second season! I didn't mind taking a look at the darker realities of life from the late 1800's, what I did mind was the ridiculous, over the top "drama" and added modern sensibilities in which they completely lose track of the original characters, the heart of the books and the era they lived in. I wish they would just create a new heroine to live and act in their over-the-top world and leave Maud's books and characters alone since very few media executives seem to have any understanding or respect for them as they are.

  44. The best is the 1985 adaptation, no doubt. The 2017 version has a good cast, but also has a lot of drama and is very different from the book sometimes.

  45. I really like the first ver. And the last one … the story is pretty amazing and I like how they change the story line and how they added the new characters in "Anne with an e". Well, I am reading the novel book right now to understand the real ver. Of the story and I can say I am so excited to know what will happen in it 😉👍

  46. Anne with an E or just Anne as it’s called in Canada…is so good and so underrated. Everyone should see it.

  47. I just love Anne with an E, wow that actress plays her so amazing!! This series really is soulfood, I enjoy it so much! The hardships make it very realistic, nobodys live will ever be only bright and sunny. I really don't understand why red hair was considered ugly in that time, it's beautiful! Anne is beautiful, she should see it herself one day.

  48. I still can't get over the fact that in Anne with an E, Matthew is still very much alive while poor Mr Blythe is gone already. In the books he lived to see his grandchildren. I don't hate this change as it allowed the show runners to change Gilbert's story and give Anne two parental figures, but it's quite interesting. Anne with an E is like a modern continuation of the books for me, not truly an adaptation. The 2016 one looks dreadful, to be honest.

  49. And yeah, as it's been already said, people love the 1985 version for the acting and the chemistry between Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie. Her Anne was very calm compared to book Anne, but they really lucked out with these two actors.

  50. I personally like both the 1985 and 2016 version. The fact that Ella Ballentine is Montgomery's own granddaughter is fascinating. I didn't know that.
    The 1934 version was OK but did stray from the book a lot. The 2017 version is horrible in my opinion. The producers of the Anne with an E version were so set on making modern social statements that they lost the beauty and innocence of the novel. They stick in modern day issues that were not issues 100 years ago.
    I would be hard pressed to choose between the 1985 and 2016 versions I like the both and watch them over ad over.

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