Anne of Green Gables (1985)

Anne of Green Gables was a television miniseries produced by Sullivan Films (Anne of Green Gables Productions) in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, PBS/Wonderworks, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, TV-60 Film Production/ZDF, City-TV, and with the participation of Telefilm Canada. Adapted from L.M. Montgomery’s novel by Kevin Sullivan and Joe Wiesenfeld and directed by Kevin Sullivan, the miniseries premiered as two ninety-five-minute instalments on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on 1–2 December 1985; it aired subsequently as four forty-five-minute instalments on PBS on 17, 24 February, and 3, 10 March 1986 and on 2, 9, 16, and 23 November 1986 on the ZDF network (in what was then West Germany), and as two instalments on 18–19 December 1989 on City-TV.

The cast included Megan Follows (Anne Shirley), Colleen Dewhurst (Marilla Cuthbert), Richard Farnsworth (Matthew Cuthbert), Patricia Hamilton (Rachel Lynde), Rosemary Radcliffe (Mrs. Barry), Schuyler Grant (Diana Barry), Marilyn Lightstone (Miss Stacey), Charmion King (Aunt Josephine Barry), and Jackie Burroughs (Mrs. Amelia Evans).

Budgeted at $3.4 million, this miniseries averaged 5.6 million viewers when it premiered in Canada in 1985, making it the highest-rated dramatic program in the history of the CBC. For the most part, this miniseries is a faithful adaptation of the original novel; omissions aside, most of the changes made are more structural than creative, some of them closely paralleled to Nicholls’ direction of the 1934 talkie version of Anne of Green Gables. Ultimately, however, Sullivan and Wiesenfeld continue the tradition of refocusing the plot on Anne’s relationship with Gilbert. Most of the scenes invented by the screenwriters serve to emphasize their budding relationship: as Susan Drain concludes in her detailed review of the television miniseries, “the film, by concentrating on the love story, is in some ways more old-fashioned, or even narrower, than the book. The film is an exquisite romance, but the novel is a Bildungsroman. That reduction is, finally, a loss” (72).

The success of this miniseries prompted three sequels—Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987), Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story (2000), and Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning (2008)—along with a spin-off series (1990–1996), an animated series (2000–2001), and an animated film (2005), all from Sullivan Entertainment. This Anne of Green Gables adaptation won nine Gemini Awards (including Best Dramatic Miniseries), an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children’s Program, a Peabody Award, and numerous other international awards and accolades.

DVD (English)

Anne of Green Gables. Sullivan Entertainment Presents. Toronto: Sullivan Entertainment, [2000].*

Anne of Green Gables. Sullivan Entertainment’s. Toronto: Sullivan Entertainment, [2000].* [Includes behind-the-scenes footage, missing scenes, previews, and miscellaneous materials. Has been reissued since.]

Anne of Green Gables: Five-Disc Collector’s Edition. Toronto: Sullivan Entertainment, [2006].

Home Video (English)

Anne of Green Gables. A Kevin Sullivan Production. Toronto: Junior Home Video, n.d.*

Anne of Green Gables. Walt Disney Home Video Presents Wonderworks. Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Home Video, n.d.*

Anne of Green Gables. Sullivan Entertainment Presents. Toronto: Sullivan Releasing, [1995].*

Home Video (French)

Anne…La Maison aux pignons verts. Une production de Kevin Sullivan. Toronto: Junior Home Video, n.d.*

Anne…La Maison aux pignons verts. Sullivan Entertainment présente. Toronto: Sullivan Entertainment, n.d.*

Anne…La Maison aux pignons verts. 4 volumes. Montréal: Imavision Distribution, [2000]. [Volume 1: Anne…La Maison aux pignons verts, episodes 1 and 2; Volume 2: Anne…La Maison aux pignons verts, episodes 3 and 4; Volume 3: Anne…La Maison aux pignons verts, La suite, episodes 1 and 2; Volume 4: Anne…La Maison aux pignons verts: La suite, episodes 3, 4, and 5.

Novelization

The Anne of Green Gables Storybook. Based on the Kevin Sullivan Film of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Classic Novel. Screenplay by Kevin Sullivan & Joe Wiesenfeld. Storybook adapted by Fiona McHugh. Willowdale, ON: Firefly Books, 1987.

Anne of Green Gables: The Official Movie Adaptation. Based on the Kevin Sullivan Film of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Classic Novel. Screenplay by Kevin Sullivan & Joe Wiesenfeld. Storybook adapted by Kevin Sullivan. Toronto: Davenport Press, 2008.

Soundtrack

Anne. Original Music Score for the Sullivan Films Emmy Award Winning TV Presentation of Anne of Green Gables [and Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel]. Composed and Conducted by Hagood Hardy. Toronto: Attic Records, n.d. [Issued first as a cassette, then later as a CD.]

Further Reading

See scholarship and trade articles by Sid Adilman, Jim Bawden, Temma F. Berg, Mike Boone, Ray Conlogue, Peter Dickinson, Susan Drain, Harvey Enchin, Margaret Firth, Jennifer Fisher, Lucie Hall, Alexandra Heilbron, Ann F. Howey, Eric Kohanik, Benjamin Lefebvre, Gillian Mackay, Eleanor Hersey Nickel, K.L. Poe, Don Saunders and Gayle Macdonald, Genevieve Wiggins, and Christopher S. Wren.