The Spirit of Anne of Green Gables


Megan Follows is to L.M. Montgomery's Anne Shirley what Daniel Radcliff is to J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter: a perfect personification of a literary icon whose portrayal will forever stand the test of time. In 1985 a young filmmaker by the name of Kevin Sullivan introduced Follows as the fiery redhead in an Emmy Award winning two-part television miniseries adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. To commemorate the film's 30th anniversary Sullivan Entertainment is finally releasing this beloved classic on Blu-ray.

"My wife loved the book growing up and insisted I try to turn it into a film. I had never read the book. When I did read it finally -- I was initially surprised that it had stood the test of time because it seemed so much like a book for 12 year old girls." Director Kevin Sullivan (who also wrote the script with Joe Wiesenfeld) said of adapting the novel into a film. "Probing deeper into the literary material during the screen adaption I began to see not only the strong visual potential that author LM Montgomery had laid out in evoking the sensibility of Prince Edward Island, but I also had a sense of it as a story for adults, not children. I took a clinical approach to making the film, focusing on strong visuals and finding the perfect cast to bring the well-loved roles to life."

When asked about his favorite memory of working with Follows Sullivan said: "During the filing of the first sequence of opening scenes, where Anne is reading Tennyson's "Lady of Shallot" while lost in the woods, Megan gave a very rocky performance on the location guide tracks (that has never been heard). As a 16 year old, she was flummoxed at how to approach performing/reading Victorian poetry. She learned how to inhabit the character of Anne so completely however, to play all of her emotion and charm authentically. She grew so much as a young performer throughout the filming that when we finally shot the close-up to the Tennyson sequence (as it was saved for one of the last scenes to be shot during production) she gave a mesmerizing performance of young girl completely lost in her imagination. Almost an ethereal performance which speaks to extent that Anne's escape into her imagination had become as an antidote to the hardship she was surrounded by. In that close-up Megan summed up all of her character development over the course of the film. She had completely erased her own persona. She became Anne and Anne became her."

While Follows' performance is strong and convincing, equally so are those of the ensemble cast. Colleen Duhurst portrayed Marilla Cuthburt, a no-nonsense, hard-working woman devoted to her faith and community with sincerity and conviction. Richard Farnsworth is kind and lovable as Marilla's older brother, Matthew, who shares many of his sister's convictions but has a softer edge. Patricia Hamilton embodies the kindhearted woman under the brash exterior of Rachel Lynd, who in all honesty, is like my grandmother and all of her friends rolled into one fun and sassy package. Schuyler Grant, who originally auditioned for Anne, was perfectly cast as her kindred-spirit Diana Barry, while the handsome Jonathan Crombie (who sadly passed away this past April) played Anne's love interest Gilbert Blythe.

"The film embodies seminal moments in the human condition that everyone can identify with; male, female, old, young." Sullivan says of the film's enduring legacy. "It's the kind of film mothers share with their daughters, or best friends share with each other. The surprise to me about LM Montgomery's rich material was how many life-affirming moments exist in it that audiences are compelled to identify with. Characters in the story can be cruel to one another but there is a profound sense of community as well. I think I was successful at creating a reality to the material (thanks in large part to the skill of the cast and their willingness to play the roles as I had visualized them) that leaves a potent impression on audiences who have seen the films. We've just completed a new documentary for the 30th anniversary of the film, which delves into audience reactions over the years. It will be released later this year in a new deluxe Blu-ray box-set which will include all four films and documents the impact the films have had on audiences over the years. People's reactions to it continue to surprise me to this day."

Sullivan's Anne is just as beloved today as it was when it was released and continues to inspire new projects based on the original film. "When the film was finished I had no idea it would go on to generate 3 other sequels, 100 hours of the spin-off TV series: Avonlea, a PBS animated series, and feature film, as well as a new Musical adaptation of the second Anne film, scheduled for Broadway." Sullivan says.

This wide-screen release, has not only preserved the film, but has given it a full restoration. Originally presented in a standard screen format, the film has been transferred to wide-screen with a resolution of 1080p and is presented in an original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The sound is presented in Dolby 5.1 in both English and French audio. The special features include a feature length commentary by writer / director Kevin Sullivan and Stefan Scaini. as well as a new documentary about the life of author in "L.M. Montgomery's Spirit of Place".