HEADS UP!!! – I will be going over spoilers covered in the first episode, as I reference the book as well. I try to be wary on what I say, but I do cover the episode, so be aware.
This is my third media version of Anne of Green Gables that I’ve seen. First, was a black and white movie I haven’t seen in years, second, the miniseries with Megan Follows as Anne, and now I am viewing the Netflix series.
My friends who have viewed this (focusing on the beginning episodes 1 & 2) have talked about the beginning being boring. Others aren’t sure how they feel, as other versions of Anne have given a precedent.
The pieces I will focus on are the parts that stand out to me the most. With the book in front of me as well (yes, I’m a nerd), let’s get started.
What Was In The Book
As I write this, I am 32 minutes in, and there is quite a bit shown in the series that is in the book.
More conversation with Anne was shown in the episode when Matthew picked her up. There are at least four pages in the book dedicated to her conversation alone with Matthew, so the fact the episode sheds light on exactly who Anne is and who Matthew is, I have no issues with this.
Anne struggles with saying good night in the book, as does the episode. I love the fact Marilla also struggles saying “good night” to Anne, as she does as well in the book. “Good night,” she said, a little awkwardly, but not unkindly. (Ch.3)
Both the book and this episode show Anne being taught to pray the second night, this pleased me.
Anne does have an attachment to the floral blossoms, which the episode shows.
What Wasn’t In The Book
Mr. Hammond did not die right after he beat Anne. Anne just says he died. It was Mr. Thomas who died falling under a train (the Thomas’ had Anne before the Hammonds).
Now, it is not really talked about in the book how much Anne was abused. It’s briefly mentioned by Anne (Ch.5), when Marilla asked how she was treated, that her “caretakers” meant to do “good” but they were busy with their children, worries, and both women had drunken husbands.
Personally, I don’t know if the beatings were necessary. From those pieces alone in the book, we can assume/understand that Anne has a had a hard life.
When Anne awakens she doesn’t take anything from the tree, though she falls in love with the beauty of Green Gables.
Anne’s bag wasn’t checked…as if she was a thief. This irks me because it changes the perspective of the audience on Marilla. It makes her seem… colder. Yes, Marilla does struggle at the beginning, wondering about Rachel’s words of warning to get an orphan. But she only thinks Anne is a thief later in the book when something actually goes missing.
From what I remember, and from what I’ve read, Anne was not tortured from the girls at the asylum. Instead, I’m surprised that they haven’t touched on the fact Anne had a mirror version of herself named Caty. (I thought for sure, every time Anne faced a mirror, this would be said in the first episode.)
Anne isn’t set up for tea when she meets Diana, rather, this is when Marilla wants to get a pattern for making Anne’s dresses from Mrs. Barry, the episode depicts Marilla making the dresses much earlier. In the book, when Anne joins Marilla to get the fabric, she is excited to meet Diana.
When Anne “confesses” to theft, Marilla refuses to let Anne go to a picnic. She doesn’t send her away…x.x as the episode shows.
Which leads me to…
This Version Paints A Grim Appearance
Though this version has, sometimes, word for word dialogue, there are pieces that taint the story, in my personal opinion.
In today’s world, we already see so much darkness. I was hoping, perhaps, this series would be more uplifting in the first episode, than what it has shown.
The colors often seen in scenes are hues of gray, faded white, and shadows of black. One of the main aspects of Green Gables is the stable beauty of both the house and land. Of course, the floral, sunsets, and depictions of water are beautiful, but, at least in the first episode, those pieces are far and in-between.
To be open to this version, I will add since the story has been done a number of times, maybe people wondered about the what ifs? What if Anne wasn’t trusted, and got sent back?
But I struggle to find delight in that. Anne’s story doesn’t need to be shrouded in darkness, in my opinion. Her backstory already was. Anne’s story begins with a young girl receiving love and hope for the first time. The series makes it appear Anne is suffering from PTSD, which is all too possible to be a reality for her, but something the book never gave an indication of.
To have the first episode be painted in such a grim way takes away the purpose of Anne. Not only the constant focus of what Anne went through, (okay maybe not constant, but I felt it was more than needed), but to also change Marilla’s character in being too critical and too unsure of herself.
Marilla is a strong woman, from the beginning of the story, and this series’ first episode changes that. The second day of having Anne, after hearing her prayers, in the book, Marilla confides to Matthew that Anne needs to be adopted. Even when she thinks Anne stole an item of hers, she does not think to get rid of Anne. Marilla was upset, but she’s a Christian woman, often spoken of in the book. She’s not materialistic, and she knows Anne needs guidance.
For my one friend who has told me she isn’t sure how she feels about the series, I can understand why.
I will add, I do think the first episode does well at the end for its dramatics and pull for the audience to feel. Maybe the different direction is the push for the audience to realize Anne lives in a fantasy world perhaps because she is mentally trying to get away from her abusive reality. But as a fan of the book and past versions, I feel like it’s taking it a little too far.
The way Anne was written, regardless of her past circumstances, was in a way many young girls could relate to her. Especially the young at heart.
Did you enjoy my take?
Would you like me to write a piece on episode 2?
Let me know by leaving a comment. Also, if you really enjoyed this episode, I am by no means saying you shouldn’t. I already know I’m picky about movies and series inspired by books, so please feel free to disagree with me. It’s entirely okay 🙂
(Check out my main blog, Inside Cup, here)