When I was about 14 years old, I was babysitting with my best friend Jennie, and we were looking through the VHS collection - yes, that's all they offered in the 80's - Jennie and I came across "Anne of Green Gables" and its sequel "Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel". We were instantly hooked, and I decided right then and there that I wanted to be Anne more than anything. She was fiesty, smart, independent, and always getting into scrapes, but no one had the imagination or deserved to be loved as much as she did. And of course I thought Megan Follows WAS Anne - I can't imagine anyone more suited for the role. She brought an originality to the role that personified Anne. It was, and still is, a true delight to watch her portrayal.
When she went to live with "elderly" siblings Matthew and Marilla, it didn't look good. Out of the two of them, Marilla was the sensible one who made the tough decisions while Matthew was more soft-hearted. Marilla recognized the need to adopt a boy to help them on their farm, yet instead the orphanage sent them a girl. But not just any girl. They sent Anne "with an 'e'" Shirley, who wanted to belong to a loving family more than anything. But she was a scrawny daydreamer, and no family would keep her for very long. Yet from the moment Matthew went to the train station to pick up their "boy", his heart was stolen by a carrot-topped motormouth who jabbered on about every topic under the sun. He was smitten by the chatty Anne, and though he knew Marilla would not be pleased, he brought her home.
Well, without giving too much away, what followed was the beginning of a journey Anne took in her quest to be accepted. Marilla decided, after some thought, to keep her "for the time being", and Anne was sent to school. But all was not smooth sailing as Anne managed to fall into one mishap after another, and immediately caught the attention of the most popular boy in school - Gilbert Blythe.
Gilbert didn't like being ignored - he liked being the boy the other girls had a crush on. Or so he thought. Then he met Anne, and it turned his whole world upside down. Jonathan Crombie sure did set my teenage heart all aflutter, and the one scene, when he's watching Anne having fun with her bosom friend Diana Berry, is one I will play over and over again almost every time I re-watch the movie. It was so innocently dreamy...sigh...
There were good times, and tragedies, and more adventures. She also met many kindred spirits along the way, including one Miss Stacey, a teacher who recognized the potential that Anne had to offer the world. She became a good friend to Anne over the years.
Of course Anne grew up, and followed where she thought her heart wanted to take her. She went to teach at an all-girl school, where she came across social barriers and intimidating rich parents who were used to making the rules. She believed she would meet a dashing hero who would love her beyond reason and would give her moonbeams and shooting stars. As Anne said at the end of the 2nd movie "I went looking for my ideals outside of myself." I think a lot of us can relate to that.
One of my most favorite things about the movie was the scenery. It was set on Prince Edward Island, and boasts some of the most gorgeous scenes you can imagine. It served to add a bit of romance and anticipation to the story, and I fell in love with it just as much as I did the characters.
Just so you know, Jennie and I stayed up all night and watched about 8 hours - all the way to the end. Of course we fought over who would get Gilbert. It was an experience I treasure - discovering Anne - and one that I've repeated many times over the years. I read a few of the books since then, but because I had already seen the movies, nothing could have taken their place. No matter how many times I watch it, I still get choked up at the same parts.
As to the rest of the story, there was a 3rd movie, called "The Continuing Story", released in 2000, many, many years after the first two, and a lot of the original cast was in it. It was nice to see that, but I believe I wish they never would have made the 3rd movie and left it up to our imaginations....I think my dear friend Anne would have preferred it that way....
Note: in the 90's, there was a spin-off called "Road to Avonlea", but that's a blog post for another day......