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Anne of Green Gables
Themes: Friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, growth, value of family (even nontraditional family), acceptance
Running Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes (can be watched in two parts)
Starring: Megan Follows as Anne Shirley, Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla Cuthbert, Richard Farnsworth as Matthew Cuthbert, Patricia Hamilton as Rachel Lynde, Schuyler Grant as Diana Barry, and Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert Blythe
Directed by: Kevin Sullivan
Anne is a normal girl who gets herself into lots of trouble, yet each incident is handled appropriately by her caretakers. In one scene, Diana accidentally gets drunk on some mild wine, thinking it is the cordial that Marilla gave the girls permission to drink.
If you haven't yet met Anne Shirley, then now is the time! Anne is a delightful young orphan who can get herself (and others) into trouble without even trying. She constantly makes mistakes, yet she is lovable, kind, deeply loyal, and great fun. Her prodigious imagination is a source of both laughter and calamity.
This three-hour story begins with 12-year-old Anne walking through the forest, reading her favorite Tennyson poem, "The Lady of Shalott." Because she is so involved in the story, she is late returning from her errands and is harshly punished by the woman for whom she works.
Anne lives with a family, working as a caretaker for their three sets of twins. When the woman's husband dies, Anne is once again placed in an orphanage. But soon, through a mistake, she is sent to live on Prince Edward Island with an elderly brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The Cuthberts decide that, although they wanted a boy to help Matthew with the farm work, they will keep Anne for a probationary period. Anne, with her ability to get into trouble, immediately is involved in several situations that could convince the Cuthberts to ship her off to the horrible Mrs. Blewett (who also has twins), or back to the orphanage. But Anne has a tendency to weasel her way into people's hearts, and she so desperately wants a family of her own that Matthew and Marilla decide to keep her.
Anne is immediately thrust into the pastoral life of Avonlea, finding a world she's never experienced. She is introduced to the sweet, naïve Diana Barry at a picnic and they become instant friends. Diana never seems to do anything wrong, while Anne's quick temper and her sharp eye for justice cause her to overreact and get into trouble.
Anne is enrolled in school, where she excels in all subjects but continually butts heads with a boy named Gilbert Blythe who started off on the wrong foot by calling her "Carrots" the first day of school. Gilbert could not have called her anything more galling, for she detests her red hair.
Anne has a fierce desire to succeed in life and studies hard to be at the top of her class. She has to battle a teacher who doesn't see value in anyone except his favorite student, Prissy Andrews, and is played by Jose Pye, a snotty girl who looks down on Anne because she's jealous that Gilbert gives the lowly orphan his attention.
Though at first Anne is on probation with Marilla and Matthew, she is soon part of the family. Still, she is falsely accused of stealing, tries to dye her hated red hair black, hurts her ankle when she falls off a roof while showing off, and then hurts her other ankle falling into an abandoned well.
Anne tries to do well as she grows up, and in the final scenes of part 1, she is excited to be serving tea to Diana while Marilla leaves them to act like grown-ups. Marilla tells Anne that she is allowed to serve the prized raspberry cordial to her guest. Anne searches for the bottle, but not really knowing what she's looking for, retrieves the wrong bottle. She serves Diana, then retreats to the kitchen to finish the preparations for tea. Diana downs nearly the entire bottle, becoming more giggly and tipsy with each glass. By the time Anne is ready to serve the food, Diana is so nauseated she only wants to go home. Anne helps her get home, where Diana's mom is horrified to find her daughter drunk and sick. She blames Anne for doing it on purpose. Anne is clueless, not really knowing what's wrong with Diana. Part 1 ends with Mrs. Barry forbidding Anne to ever speak with Diana again.
Anne is sad and lonely, watching Diana Barry from a distance. Diana is obviously sad as well. The only bright spot in Anne's life is her new teacher, Miss Stacey. Miss Stacey is an encourager and believes in all the children, giving them educational experiences outside the classroom and preparing them for college and life beyond school. She and Anne develop a special friendship.
One winter night, long after Diana and Anne have been forced to part as friends, Diana races to Green Gables because her younger sister is terribly sick with the croup. Diana's parents have gone to a political rally, leaving her in charge, but she has no idea how to help her sister. Fortunately, Anne has dealt with the croup many times with the twins she used to care for, and she knows exactly what to do. When the doctor finally arrives, the fever has broken, and the little girl is breathing fine again. The doctor commends Anne for saving the child's life.
As a result, Mrs. Barry regrets her earlier decision and not only allows Anne and Diana to be friends again, but also invites Anne to a ball. At first, Marilla won't let her go, angry that Mrs. Barry would accuse Anne of purposely getting Diana drunk. But Matthew steps in and convinces Marilla that the ball would be good for Anne. He also buys Anne her dream dress-one with puffed sleeves.
At the ball, Anne's unforgiving attitude toward Gilbert is evident. For a moment, at Diana's encouragement, she thinks about making up with Gilbert. But then he responds rudely to her, and she returns to her angry cave of unforgiveness.
That night, she and Diana are thrilled that they get to sleep in the guest bedroom. They race to the room and leap onto the bed-surprising and scaring Aunt Josephine half to death. The girls knew Aunt Josephine was coming to visit, but they thought she was not going to be there until the following night. Aunt Josephine is convinced that they scared her on purpose.
The next morning, however, Anne disarmingly apologizes to Aunt Josephine, and they become friends. Anne says later to Diana, "She is a kindred spirit." Aunt Josephine's entrance into Anne's life adds a new dimension to the girl's future. Now Anne has someone else who cares about her, and she has an older woman friend to spend time with and confide in.
Back home, Anne's imagination gets her into trouble again as she plays out her favorite poem, "The Lady of Shalott." The skiff she is floating in sinks, and she has to cling to a bridge until Gilbert Blythe comes along. She's humiliated and angry that he should be the one to rescue her.
Anne grows up quickly, performing an epic poem at the White Sands Hotel, winning the Avery Scholarship, and getting ready to go to college. Matthew and Marilla are very proud of her accomplishments. She is eager to continue her education, but Matthew dies suddenly, leaving Green Gables in a precarious position. Anne decides to forgo college to teach in a neighboring community's school. Gilbert is to teach at the Avonlea school because of his family's situation. Yet, with extreme kindness and sacrifice, Gilbert trades teaching positions with Anne so she can be close to Green Gables and Marilla.
Marilla confesses to Anne that as a young person she'd had an unforgiving attitude toward Gilbert's father and thought she could punish him by not forgiving him. Yet now she realizes that was foolish and wrong, and she tells Anne she wishes she'd forgiven him years before. Anne decides to forgive Gilbert, and the story ends with a hint of potential romance (finally!) between the two.
Before You Watch
Get out an atlas and find Prince Edward Island. Go to the library, or search the Internet to find out more about PEI, its history and customs.
Talk about how things have changed in the last hundred years or so. Have your children call their grandparents and ask them what things have changed since they were young. What did you (parents) have as children that no longer exists? (Wax paper bags for sandwiches! Vinyl records!) Or what new things have been invented since you were a child? Remind your children to watch for things in the movie that are different from today.
Proverbs 17:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-10; Luke 6:37; Ephesians 4:32; Matthew 18:21-22
Talking Points, Part 1
1. Would you like a friend like Anne Shirley? Why or why not? What do you like most about her? What don't you like about her? Read Proverbs 17:17. Does this verse describe Anne? How? Does it describe anyone you know?
2. Anne hates the color of her hair. What do you think about her hair? If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be? Why?
3. Marilla says Anne's first prayer sounds like she's writing a business letter to God. Who do you think God is like when you pray? A boss? A policeman? A friend? A parent? A wish catalog to order from?
4. Anne apologized to Rachel Lynde. Did she really mean it? Was she really sorry? What was she sorry for? Is an apology really an apology if you don't mean it? Explain.
5. Read Luke 6:37. Throughout the first half of the story, Anne is judged for being an orphan. People assume she will have bad manners and do bad things just because she doesn't have parents. Is that right according to the verse you just read? What are some of the things people think Anne did that she really didn't do? Have you ever thought someone at school would have bad manners and do bad things just because they looked a certain way or had a different kind of family than you're used to?
6. Whose fault do you think it is that Diana drank too much of the wine and got sick? Why? Is there ever a situation when something happens that is no one's fault?
Talking Points, Part 2
1. Miss Stacey says to Anne, "The truth will set you free." Do you think this statement is correct? What about lying? Does that get you out of trouble? How can lying do the opposite of setting you free? Find the verse in the Bible where Jesus says, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
2. "Tomorrow is always fresh, without any mistakes in it." What do you think of that statement? Does it make you excited or scared? Why? Have you ever had a day when you didn't sin or make any mistakes? (Everyone be honest!)
3. Which teacher do you like better? Mr. Phillips or Miss Stacey? Why? Is Mr. Phillips fair to Anne?
4. Anne studies hard to be at the top of her class. In this story, can you see how working and studying hard bring good things to Anne? What are those things? After watching this movie, how do you feel about working hard in school?
5. Anne gets mad at Gilbert Blythe at the very beginning of the story. Do you remember why? Throughout the story Anne refuses to forgive Gilbert and holds a grudge (she stays mad). Do you think Gilbert deserves for her to hold a grudge for so many years over that one little thing? How long do you think someone should hold a grudge? Have you ever held a grudge when someone hurt you? How did that feel to hold the grudge? What does God say we are to do? See Matthew 18:21-22 and 6:14-15. How hard is that?
No TV Zone
Make a list of things Anne and her friends and family do to entertain themselves since they don't have television. From your list, choose five new things to try, and do one a week for the next five weeks. Then talk about which of those activities were the most fun and which ones you'd like to do again. Make a "suggestion box" so the family can submit ideas for fun things they'd like to do in the future. Once in a while take out a suggestion and do it as a family. Remember, most of Anne's activities don't cost anything, and some involve friends.
Family Reading Time
If you don't already own Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, check it out of the library and read aloud from the book each night after dinner or at bedtime. Follow Anne through the rest of the books in the series. You'll be glad you did! -Lissa Halls Johnson
Themes: Intrinsic value of life, courage, importance of friendship, treating others different from you with respect, the power of love and kindness to change things, the value of individuals who do not have special talents but have love, acceptance, kindness, and innocence
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Starring: James Cromwell as Farmer Hoggett, Magda Szubanski as Mrs. Hoggett, and the voice talents of Christine Cavanaugh as Babe, Miriam Margolys as Fly, and Hugo Weaving as Rex
Directed by: Chris Noonan
There is some mild language: Babe calls the sheep buttheads; the son-in-law says "for God's sake." A duck is killed off camera for the family Christmas dinner. The fact that the meat we eat was once a living animal is made clear when Babe asks if humans eat pigs. The grandchildren are brats, rudely refusing to eat their Christmas dinner and throwing fits when they don't like the Christmas gifts they receive.
Right away, it's obvious this pig is different from the others. When his mother is taken away, he mourns for her while his sisters and brothers are more interested in food. Babe is swept out of the barn and taken to a small country fair where Farmer Hoggett correctly guesses Babe's weight and wins him. The plan from the beginning is to fatten Babe and eat him. Yet although Farmer Hoggett doesn't know it right away, he senses that Babe is special.
In the farmyard it's immediately clear that the other animals have prejudices against each other based on the type of animal they are. The dogs believe all sheep and pigs are stupid. The sheep believe all dogs are vicious wolves. Everyone believes something about the other animals that keeps everyone segregated in their own little groups, suspicious and unable to get along. And Ferdinand the duck doesn't want to be who he is-he'd rather be a rooster.
Babe is the only animal without prejudice. He believes the best of all creatures. His heart is large, kind, innocent, and loving.
Excerpted from Movie Nights for Kids Copyright © 2004 by Focus on the Family. Excerpted by permission.
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