Has anyone ever had less chill than Anne Shirley?
There’s so much to love about the protagonist of Anne of Green Gables and its sequels, but my favorite has always been the fact that she’s an all-out drama queen–yet, still treated with respect and nuance by author L.M. Montgomery.
Anne’s desire to describe every emotion in the strongest and most poetic possible terms is the source of lots of humor but never turns the young girl into a joke. On the contrary, the extent to which Anne cares so much about everything is treated as a great strength that comes from imagination and generosity and fierce hope.
Anne is my focus for today’s Throwback Thursday, a weekly (when I feel like it) post where I feature a piece of literature beloved by young adults older than fifty years. As with last week’s Little Women feature, this one comes about mostly because I have screen adaptations on my mind.
I’ve just started Netflix’s much-publicized Anne With an E, an exceedingly well-titled short series adaptation. The second season was recently released, so I’ll be able to binge quite a lot at once, but I’m only a couple episodes in so far.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the series so far. I was actually prepared to have major problems–after the series was slammed as a “betrayal” of the source material in the New Yorker and “how not to adapt a classic” in Paste Magazine, I was expecting something aggressive and pointlessly “modernized.”
A couple episodes in, though, I am thoroughly engaged by the show, which, at times, is charming and heartbreaking. It certainly takes a different tone than the novel, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing–when a world has been adapted multiple times, I enjoy it when adaptations choose a new angle and make bold choices. There’s no reason to re-make a period drama if you already have the quintessential, perfect version.
And, to many fans of Anne, perfection has already been achieved. Eight of the many, many women that grew up with the 1980s Anne films shared their favorite elements of the Megan Follows classic in Vanity Fair, from the gentle tone to the puffed sleeves to the swoon-worthy Gilbert. It’s hard to deny that this version nails the sweet, relationship-driven nature of the original Anne.
I truly love the 80s version, but I can go back and watch those any time. For now, I’m very interested to watch more of an adaptation that approaches Anne’s youthful obnoxiousness and less-childish trauma with unflinching reality. Don’t worry – I’ve already teared up and awwwwwed more than a few times.
Do you have a favorite Anne adaptation? How do you feel about the Netflix version? Let me know in comments!