When a book is turned into a movie, the popular sentiment is that the books are better the movies. I abide by that sentiment myself. Written words are very powerful; they enable people to conjure up images from nothing, dig into a person’s psyche and really understand the individual’s motivations, and, overall, enter a new world. In contrast, movies don’t always have the same impact. By nature of being visual, the person doesn’t get to create the images themselves; the images the person sees aren’t always created for artistic reasons but based on costs, racial, and age stereotypes. In addition, given that movies have to restrict times, stories are often cut short and lack the depth/details book provide. Examples of these occurrences include The Harry Potter series, and the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice.
While I have held and continue to hold these beliefs, I was recently surprised to discover an exception to it. I’ve been reading the Anne of Green Gables series (I am currently on the fifth book, Anne’s House of Dreams) and have found many times thinking how the Anne Of Green Gables movies (the original first two by Kevin Sullivan Productions) are much better than the book.
Source: Kevin Sullivan Productions
Before I explain why, I want to first clarify first and foremost that I highly respect the book author, L.M. Montgomery. Her writing has brought joy to millions –including me- in the 100+ years since Anne of Green Gables creation. She created a memorable, lovable character in Anne- an imaginative, spunky orphan who comes to live with an elderly brother/sister in a small, Canadian town of Avonlea. Anne’s positive (but often theatric) attitude and misadventures make her both fun and relatable. Montgomery’s ability to get into the hearts of millions of people over multiple centuries is commendable; it is not easy to create a character that appeals to different tastes, sensibilities, in different time periods and she did just that.
In addition to creating a memorable character, Montgomery is fantastic with her descriptions of the natural settings. Readers are instantly transported to Anne’s world with the vivid imagery Montgomery conjures up for them; her descriptions and tributes to nature enables the readers to smell the flowers, hear the sea, and feel the peace of being in the woods just as Anne does. I’ve been reading the series in the city, but Montgomery’s descriptions make me forget the city noises and allow me to feel the calmness of being immersed in nature.
While the above-mentioned are strong positives for the book series, the movies bring Anne’s personality out more than the books (the first two movies stick mostly to the book situations, combining some of the first four books). Many of the latter books end up being more about the people who Anne meet rather than on Anne and her dreams/ hopes. The books seem more like one-off, disconnected episodes rather than a story about Anne. In the movies, the focus is a connected storyline, with more attention on Anne and her journey. With each incident being more connected to the next one, we see how Anne builds upon her failures and successes, and grows. As a result, we get to know her intimately.
One of my other complaints with the book series is that Anne ends up meeting similar types of people. Because the movies have time limits, we only see a select people Anne meets. As a result, Anne’s encounters don’t seem repetitive and everything she encounters seems new/ presenting a new side of her personality.
The biggest reason I connect to the movie series though is the outstanding job by actress Megan Follows. She not only embodies the most well-known parts of Anne’s spirit-dreaminess/hotheadness- but also fleshes out Anne’s other characteristics that are subtly described in the book. For example, in the books, we read about Anne’s clever retorts back to mean people but we see more of it on display in the movies.
I’ll continue to read the series – the movies don’t end at the same point as the books- and enjoy them even if I like the movies more. The book series still tugs at my heart and has the ability to make me feel better instantaneously when I’m feeling down. I’ve found Anne’s House of Dreams to be the perfect companion while enjoying the recent beautiful weather.
I would love to hear your thoughts on whether you agree or disagree with my opinion. Please comment below or send me a tweet at @classicsgal.