Friday, July 1, 2011

Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel

Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (titled Anne of Avonlea in the US), despite its awful title is actually quite good.  It first aired on May 19, 1987; about two years after Kevin Sullivan's successful Anne of Green Gables was released.  The story was written by Sullivan based on Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery.  The film was also produced and directed by Sullivan.
Even though the film is cobbled together from various sources and many details are changed from the original novels, it somehow remains consistent with the tone set in Montgomery's work and the tone of the first film.  It begins with Anne as the Avonlea school teacher and a frustrated writer as her short stories continue to be turned down by publishers.
Diana has become engaged to Fred Wright and Anne is somewhat disappointed that her friend has gone for a man who is nothing like her childhood ideal.  Diana proves that she will always be a great friend to Anne by slightly altering one of her stories and submitting it to a contest to advertise baking powder.  Anne is somewhat shocked to find that she has won!
As much as Anne seems to have grown up she is still a free spirit and can still get into mischief.  I love the cow incident from Anne of Avonlea in which she accidentally sells Mrs. Lynde's cow and she and Diana ruin their dresses by chasing after the cow through a muddy field.  This film also continues Mrs. Lynde's story.  Her husband Thomas becomes very ill and dies.  Rachel is forced to consider leaving her beloved Avonlea to live with her son in the west.
Gilbert asks Anne to marry him (twice) and she refuses saying that he will always be a great friend but that she can't love him as a wife.  With Diana's life changing, Marilla's eye sight improving and wanting to escape from Gilbert, Anne decides to accept a post as English professor at Kingsport Ladies College in Nova Scotia.  Her old teacher, Miss Stacey, has recommended her.  Marilla decides to invite Rachel to live with her at Green Gables and Anne feels free to go when she knows Marilla will not be left alone.
Anne arrives in Kingsport to find the town is dominated by the various clans of the Pringle family. They do not like outsiders--especially when they are orphans who write short stories.  The Pringle girls and their parents make the first few weeks of Anne's term extremely difficult but Anne does find a kindred spirit in one of her students, Emmeline Harris.  After an incident in which Anne and Emmeline fall through the roof of the caretaker's shed, Mr. Harris removes Emmeline from school and withdraws his financial support from KLC.
The school board wants Anne to resign but Miss Stacey convinces them to keep her on for the rest of the term.  In order to try to make up for the financial losses, Anne mounts a play with her students. The process helps most of the Pringle girls to come together and understand Anne.  The event is a huge success and the school board offers Anne a five-year contract.  The only person who remains bitterly against Anne is the school principal, Miss Katherine Brooke.
In the midst of all this, Anne approaches Emmeline's grandmother, Mrs. Harris, to ask if she can continue tutoring Emmeline outside of school.  The tyrannic old woman agrees.  Over time, Anne's kindness and spirit bring light and joy to the old Harris mansion for the first time in years.  Bitter Mrs. Harris comes to love Anne until her death sometime later.  After the funeral, Emmeline leaves Kingsport to live with her father in Boston.  But not before Mr. Harris, enchanted with Anne and what she has been able to do for herself and his family, asks her to marry him.  It is at that moment that Anne realizes she has made a grave mistake.  She does love Gilbert and she declines Mr. Harris' proposal.
Throughout her time in Kingsport, Anne has struggled to make a friend of Katherine Brooke. Brooke is a strict disciplinarian.  She does not like teaching and takes it out by being miserable to everyone around her.  Eventually, Anne's persistence breaks down the walls the Katherine puts up. Anne invites her to spend the summer at Green Gables and Katherine accepts.  She finally opens up to Anne and confesses that what she really wants to do is travel and see the great sights of the world.  
Meanwhile, Gilbert has completed his first year as a medical student.  He is engaged to a woman called Christine but at the end of the term he catches Scarlet Fever and calls off the wedding.  He knows that Anne is the only one he'll ever love.  Anne has taken Gilbert's old advice and written a collection of stories about Avonlea.  Her first book is published shortly after she arrives home.  She takes a copy to Gilbert, who is deathly ill, and her love gives Gilbert the strength to fight back to health.
Once recovered, Gilbert asks Anne to marry him once more.  This time she accepts and a new epoch in her life begins.
My only real criticism of this film is that the hairstyles are sometimes far too huge and ridiculous! It's true that the large, loose "puff" was the style for young women at this time but sometimes Megan Follows looks like she has about twenty pounds of fur on her head!

All in all, this is really entertaining film and a good addition to the mythos of Anne of Green Gables.

All images are owned by Sullivan Entertainment.  No copyright infringement is intended.