Reviewed by: Carrie Rostollan
Starring: Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, Richard Farnsworth | Director: Kevin Sullivan
This beautiful film deals with the value of imagination, the importance of respect, and the possibilities of love. Megan Follows gives a consistent and endearing portrayal of Anne Shirley, the orphan who finds her way to the hearts of an entire community on Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Anne is 12 years old when we meet her, living with a foster family, but escaping her dreary situation through books. She struggles with a poor self-image, because they consider her “trash what don’t deserve no better.” It’s when she is taken into the home of Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert in the town of Avonlea, PEI, that her life begins to change for good. Marilla and Matthew are fairly old, brother and sister, but wanting to raise an orphan as their own. Matthew (Richard Farnsworth) is the first to see Anne’s potential, telling Marilla, “We might be of some good to her.” Marilla (Colleen Dewhurst) is more stern, correcting Anne for fits of temper which Anne blames on her red hair, but laughing privately at Anne’s melodramatic personality.
Anne develops numerous relationships with the townsfolk, from her best friend Diana (Schuyler Grant) to her school rival Gilbert Blythe (Jonathan Crombie). Anne’s headstrong determination, along with advice from the many “kindred spirits” she discovers in life, sustain her through the four years this story spans.
There isn’t an overt Christian tone to this film, though God is spoken of numerous times, and always with reverence. In bad times, Anne is reminded that God knows best, an idea which brings comfort where nothing else can. It’s a very virtuous story, with many life lessons which would be well-learned by everyone.
Adapted from the novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery, this film is profanity-free. The uncommon (by today’s film standards) flowery speech is a welcome change, demonstrating how emotion can be expressed without resorting to blasphemy or other filth words. The acting is superb, and each character is distinctly memorable, fun to watch, and easy to care about. I adore this movie, and I think everyone should experience it at least once.
Year of Release—1985