Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars

90 min. PBS. 2017. $19.99. UPC 841887034067.
Gr 4 Up—The second part of a planned trilogy, the movie continues the adventures of Anne Shirley, the plucky orphan girl living with elderly siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Following the year that Anne turns 13, this 90-minute film is very episodic, portraying many short, undeveloped episodes from the book. It seems to be aiming for an audience with limited attention spans and therefore gives an overall sense of leaving the characters underwritten and somewhat modernized. Matthew is given a touch of dementia, and Marilla's well-known tartness is toned so far down as to be nearly nonexistent. The competitive relationship between Gilbert and Anne is underdeveloped and turns too quickly into young romance. The production's inability to linger upon moments means that viewers don't have the opportunity to think about the changes Anne, her elders, and friends are experiencing. They just tumble from event to event; some important parts from the book are completely omitted. This is a shame as the actors, including Martin Sheen as Matthew and Ella Ballentine as Anne, are charming. The production values are excellent, the scenery beautiful and lush.
VERDICT The 1985 TV production of Anne of Green Gables starring Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, and Richard Farnsworth is still the Anne that can't be beat. It is available on DVD and belongs in every collection.

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