Sunday, June 11, 2017

Depression and Comfort. Why Anne with An E Cannot Compare To Kevin Sullivan's adaptation of Anne of Green Gables and How Anne is a Part Of Who I am.

Context: Usually I do not write reviews, comparisons or critique most media. I could, because I do have opinions and hold my choices of movies, shows, and songs to high standards, but I am also able to enjoy something cheap for the sake of cheese or to respect a piece of art without enjoying it. However, there are a few timeless works of art that are a part of my soul in which nothing can compare. Toping that list is the 1985 adaptation of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables The Sequel. That series is entwined into my soul and fused into the core of my being. Thus, when I heard that yet another adaptation was coming, and it caused more of a stir than the previous other attempts, I dreaded the fact that I would have to watch it and give it a fair chance. I also knew I would be writing about it because Anne, to me, is more than a story. Anne is part of the fabric of who I am.

Anne has always been a heroine of the daily. Her escapades and stories were rooted in the explorational themes of home, comfort, love and belonging. As this critic reviewed HERE, "Anne of Green Gables endures as a cozy story that reveals the resiliency of the human spirit through small-scale, domestic victories and setbacks, as well as the mundane, everyday tragedies of human life." Anne is, and has always been, about the little moments in life that make up the larger aspect. Sure, L.M. Montgomery wrote about tragedy and insinuated hardships from Anne's orphaned past, but she focused more on the little details that make up life, friendship, death and love. In that, it was a story that almost anyone could relate to.

Anne with An E took this and instead created a jarring and gritty version of trauma after trauma. I will not go into detail but you can read all about that HERE in an article titled, "Anne of Green Gables, Netflix's Bleak Adaptation Get's it So Terribly Wrong." I actually respected Anne with an E despite it's tried affiliation with the source material of the more cozy, comforting story. I wish it could have been a story on it's own. I understand a certain amount of PTSD from sensory trauma, though my childhood was NOTHING like Anne's in this story, so I recognized that the Anne in this version had it severely. It could possibly make those who have suffered such ills feel less alone, or maybe trigger their trauma...I don't know. But I DO know that, right now, I have been struggling with depression, and this newer tale DID express feelings that I could relate to. I have been feeling that depressive numbness and have been searching in vein for anything to trigger feeling within. Wonder Woman brought me the closest moment of feeling I have had recently. 'Anne with An E' actually triggered me to cry within the first act, and for that alone, I am grateful however my Anne of Green Gables can do that, even when I am most depressed, simply by encouragement. The acting was well done and the child who played Anne was delightful in expression. However, I could only enjoy it up to a point because while it did have the memorized lines from my childhood show, these phrases would show up jarringly in the context given. Dark and gritty isn't whom Anne IS in the books nor in the amazing 1985 adaptation. Anne is sunny, cheerful, headstrong, stubborn, and imaginative. She is also the platonic love of Mathew's life and the match for Gilbert because she does not slow down for him or give him reasons to be complacent. Anne is born from GENTLE books. There are other stories that should give the grittier aspects of life, but this tale was never supposed to go there.

“Dear old world', she murmured, 'you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” 

This article HERE titled "Why the 1980's Anne of Green Gables is such a Hard act to follow," highlights all the reasons why women and men everywhere fell in love with Megan Follows version of Anne (Kevin Sullivan's adaptation.) I re-introduced my husband to Anne when we were dating and he still asks to watch the show every year. My sons adore the films just as much as my daughter. The series is timeless and classic, endearing and beautifully ordinary in a romantic, comforting way. I have the entire film committed to memory. When I hear Hagood Hardy's 'Trip to Green Gables' music I STILL tear up. The teariness I feel stems from a deep well of stored inspiration and inspiring lines uttered during walks through sun dappled trees with Ms. Stacey or on grassy fields with Matthew. Wisdom that was installed by the daily deeds of ordinary people who defied gender stereotypes and became a crucial part of Anne's life of love, was what encompassed the entire series. It pulls at my heartstrings in a way no other media has yet to do. Yes, I have cried and been pulled into story lines that run a close second in my heart, but none have yet to move me time and time again and become such a crucial part of me as the 1985- version of Anne of Green Gables.

I used to cry to my mother in Grades School that there would never be a man in the world who would love me like Gilbert Blythe loved Anne for her brains, hot temper, big heart, imagination and quirkiness. I knew I was like Anne and I had no intention of waiting for the man of my dreams because he already had lived and died as Gilbert Blythe. At one point, I amused my mother by pointing out that even Jonathan Crombie, who played Gilbert, was too old to go after. I thought, in my child imaginings, that he would run a close second since he did play Gilbert perfectly. I was around ten years old and he was older than twenty which seemed an insurmountable age gap at the time. I actually grieved over this. Heart wrenching, gulping sobs. 

“Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worth while.”  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Looking back, I think that at it's heart, Anne of Green Gables is about acceptance, love and building a family out of people that one may not have originally belonged to in the first place. I never felt like I belonged. I always lived in my imagination in a different time. Anne's time of the early 1900's mostly. On each holiday we had, I would search out the vintage shops and spend my hard earned money on button down lace tops, musty 1900 paraphernalia, gloves, Judy Garland recordings, or teacups. For Christmas, I had my mother fashion bloomers for me to sleep in.  My playhouse was decorated exactly like a 1900 home and my dress up clothes contained similar pieces. I emulated the women I watched in my shows, but with Anne I didn't feel I needed to emulate because I already WAS. I didn't know my fashion choices were out of style as I had no concept of time. My time was based upon the films I watched. My film choices often stayed in this time period like Little Women, On Moonlight Bay, By The light of the Silvery Moon, My fair Lady or Meet me in St. Louis. My other favourite time period was the 1940's period (which often would go back to early 1900 story telling) of Gene Kelly and Audrey Hepburn with films like Roman Holiday, Singing In the Rain, Philadelphia Story ect. My mother tried her best to keep me somewhat accepted while also acquiescing to my begging for bloomers, plaid long skirts, lace gloves and button downs.

“There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting.”  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I knew, even in my younger years, that I was quirky, headstrong, imaginative and sensitive. I had a huge heart but could cause a lot of harm with my words quickly. I understood Anne deeply. The Anne of Sullivan's adaptation was a girl that most viewers understood at some level. She was for the outcasts, the different, the strong, the ordinary, and those longing for a place to call home. She was the perfect feminist hero surrounded by progressive women AND men. Her story held nuances of hardship but these were wrapped in a warm blanket of cozy familiarity. Each character in the 1980's version had a principled morality yet progressive growth of attitude.

My 'family' has some blood relatives, but mostly, it has always been built out of characters similar to Avonlea. Some of us travelled through the school years and beyond together while others have flitted in and out of life or travelled beyond, but yet each shaped me. When I was a teen I would often express that my friends WERE my family. Especially the few I allowed in my inner circles. Because I took off more of my coping masks when I was with them. I mostly kept my thoughts to myself like little treasures that could not be picked apart or laughed at. With very few, I could be a bit more true to my progressive nature. It was a nature that I had no words for at the time, but didn't fit in with most of the conservative views around me. Not only did I feel at my core that I was not in tune with the majority religiously, politically or socially but I also felt deep inside, that generationally and emotionally I was a little bit 'defective' because my stances or expression were often only portrayed in the media I consumed (songs, film, art, books) or the brief pieces I wrote. I did not yet have the agency to fully BE who I knew I was. It was pre internet, because our corner of the world was always a decade or two behind, thus I did not know that there WERE other people like me. As the years went on I found them, the kindred spirits, some authors, which are listed on my library page HERE (funny enough Anne is the only video link in my books) as well as musicians, lyricists, actors, screenwriters, artists and ordinary people. But Megan Follows' Anne was the first to enter my world and sing into my soul the epiphany that I DID belong. Even if it was another place and time. I had a family of kindreds, some to still discover and others hiding in the past. She had me look at mundane moment's and see the beauty in them. I learned how to cope with hardship and heartache alongside her. I realized that I would never settle for less than what I wanted out of life.

“Anne always remembered the silvery, peaceful beauty and fragrant calm of that night. It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it.”  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Anne gave me the courage and spunk to be able to announce over and over in teenage hood that I wasn't going to get married NOR have children. Ironic I know. I lived in a religious community where marriage was often toted as the ultimate goal for a woman. I wasn't interested. However, I was interested in romance and epic tales. I wanted a heart pounding romantic epic that was not a tragedy but everlasting. At that time, I just didn't want the institutional commitment of marriage attached, which was basically proclaiming I was a harlot in the circles I ran in. It was audacious. I seemed traditional to most because I liked to belong, but on the inside, I was anything but conservative. I had principles which is another reason why the stories from Avonlea struck such a chord in my heart, but these principles were based on individual context instead of a one size fits all.

“It's delightful when your imaginations come true, isn't it?”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables

It would shock my childhood self to know that I was married at 18 and had three children by 25 and that I love that this was my choice. I stand by the beauty of a young marriage which grows together, however, it came with costs. PTSD from the early child rearing years which I admit-tingly mostly hated. (Stories for another time.) I can honestly say, that for the most part, my spouse is my Gilbert. He is amused at my quirks, admires my brains, respects my choices, and is completely in love with me. I don't even have to question his love, though this year, I DID question mine. It was a tough year and marriage has moments or years of loving without being IN love. We have made it through two of these years before, taking turns being the spouse whom loved but was not IN LOVE, and we will make it through again. Overall though, he is the one who will stand in a crowd and applaud me when no one else will. He gets my weaker aspects of sensory overload but he does not think that these diminish my strengths. In fact, he often calls me his super hero BECAUSE he knows what I hide and suffer and yet what I choose to live through. I never dreamed of the possibility that real life would give me a Gilbert, but indeed, I have had some hot, romantic and dreamy moments. Which is another reason why I love the 1980's version of Anne so much. It captures these feelings in a gentle, yet realistic, yet rosy sort of way. 

Most of all, Anne taught me that it's not what the world holds for you- it is what you bring to it. A lesson that has enriched my life in so many ways. I have exactly what I want. I echo Anne's statement, "I don't want diamond sunsets or marble halls...I just want you." That is how I feel about my life. I have always wanted a rooted home. A place that I could create any way I chose. A place where I belonged and was allowed to read anything I wanted without sanction or listen to without disapproval. I could not relate to Belle when she expressed having "adventures in the great wide somewhere...I want it more than I can bear." I understood her love of reading, feeling different and wishing to be understood, but I did not want that type of freedom. I wanted the freedom of the mind. To engage with atheist material if I wished and not have it judged, listen to language because the material within the language was thought provoking, or pick up an Astrology book simply because I think it's fun and it has NOTHING to do with what I believe. I wished for a place to tuck away from the world and control every aspect of the sensory with my own soap smells, cleaners, materials, clutter, or any other matter. And I wished for ONE person who would get me or at least be willing to hear my perspectives continually enough to understand.

I wanted a gentle legacy of ordinary moments. I never wanted fame or riches or even a job that spoke of some great title. I only wished to engage in things I enjoyed like writing or watching, working on my little corner, and loving whom I loved. I wanted a Gilbert. I wanted an epic love story in the sense that it would be ordinary, everyday and long lasting through the normal trials of life. I was determined to stay true to my self and write about whatever I chose to a small group of people who would appreciate these musings. I wanted to be a woman who could inspire the following lyrics in at least one person. Just one:"... She will still torment me, Calm me, hurt me. Move me, come what may...Now I know she'll never leave me, Even as she fades from view, She will still inspire me...Be a part of everything I do"- Lyrics by Alan Menken (Evermore) 

I already struggle with darker themes in life, thus 'Anne with An E', did not give me the needed balance I require. 'Anne with an E' on Netfllix, did actually help me process a bit more of my PTSD and depressive episodes in a sense, but I stopped watching because I realized that my heart felt heavier and heavier. Anne of Green Gables does the opposite. I watch and I feel lighter or encouraged or at least hopeful. I catch the beautiful phrases she says, hear the uplifting music, watch the grass sway in the sun dappled trees of Green Gables, and witness the love of Kindred Spirits and I feel beauty and comfort. Even if I am depressed, there is some level of ordinary coziness that sweeps towards me and encompasses me in a virtual hug. I cry and cry and cry when I feel depressed while watching Anne of Green Gables because it seems a bit unattainable yet also hopefully just around the corner. If I numb, usually one tear will still leak. When I am not depressed, I still cry with inspiration and happiness that I have had some of these moments in life. Anne should be, above all, about hopeful belonging and comforts of the everyday in hardship. 

It's the moment when Anne runs to Marilla after her time at school. I weep every time at the blatant love and homecoming involved, as the music swells. (image below)

Or when Anne is in the 'depths of despair after dying' her hair green or when Anne heartbreakingly loses Matthew and he says to her in the scene below found at 3:36 " I worked hard all my life. I'd rather drop in the harness. I got old. I never noticed..." And Anne responds, "If I would have been the boy you sent for I could have spared you in so many ways." Matthew then says, "I never wanted a boy. I only wanted you from the first day. Don't ever change. I love my little girl. I'm so proud of my little girl." Hearts break. And I bawl every time. Even watching the clip and typing it out, I am a mess. This is what Anne of Green Gables should be...the ordinary love in hardship. The contrasts of beauty and pain. I suppose I am partial because of how this show formed me in every facet of my life. My father played Matthew in a local play and while I went to support him and the play was well done, I had to force myself to sit through it because it was not my beloved 1985 version. Sullivan's Green Gables is the ultimate series to portray L.M. Montgomery's heroine.

If you have not watched the four part series of 1985- Sullivan's version of Anne of Green Gables I highly recommend it. Especially before you watch the new 'Anne with an E' series if you must. I would try to disassociate it with the true L.M. Montgomery's Anne if possible. You can find the classic, official Anne of Green Gables site HERE. The dreams dearest to my heart are right here. Even in grief, self criticism, depression, and hard moments, I know that still I bring to the world what I can. That has to be enough. In that there is great comfort. When I can, try to boldly live the mundane with appreciation and imagination...just like Anne.

Song Choices: Hagood Hardy - Theme form Anne of Green Gables and the Trip to Green Gables:


Anonymous said...

My kindreds are in the past. I can relate to different times being times I am drawn to. I watched " how green is my valley" today ( 1941) and I bawled because it was so hard then but also much simpler.

It seems to me that emotions were more pure , then and because I'm so analytical and yet so emotional ( and I find the Internet too analytical with emotions ) that things from the past and mentors from the past really inspire and comfort me because they are pure and not regurgitated.

On another note :

My husband and I have years like you describe . This year he seems to love me more although I love him just as much as ever but he seems to extra love me this year. Strange, isn't it?

Beautiful post.- G

Kmarie A. said...

I actually have not watched that one!!! And i have watched A LOT from that era. Yes I agree that the purity is an aspect that is involved.
I am glad to hear that you also have years like is strange...For me, it is coming off of this year of keeping him alive...and now he is finally doing better and then the mono...and its my turn to process all that happened...the borderline verbal abuse that was done from severe mental illness...and the complications that are in love for that time period but affected me on a deep level I could not and was not allowed to process till now because my emotions were lesser and secondary willingly due to the severness of his situation. But now I am have gone to the depths of despair and am really struggling on almost every level on most days...and its tough to fee that in love feeling with all of that. But I DO love him. This I know...but because of all the processing it will take time to build back trust and get our friendship back on track...:)

Thank you. It came from the heart. xoxo

Anonymous said...

I understand the need to build back trust.
I don't know that I ever really get there.

I'm not one for letting go of deep hurt no matter the cause. My husband has ADHD and I have a photographic memory and whatever he has said or done can get triggered and then replayed as if it just happened and I am as devastated as when it really happened .

I'm hoping for you that you can have
all the things in your life ( inside yourself and outside yourself ) that you need in order to come out trusting and strong friends again .

I can tell you love him and that he loves you.

You've had a rough year and mono too and now depression .

I'm here if you ever need a listening ear.


Kmarie A. said...

Thank you…I appreciate this so much. I feel its not a conversation most engage in.

I am also like you in that I am just as devastated as when it happened when I do remember. Luckily I don’t have that memory aspect most of the time- one benefit to memory struggles I suppose but when it does happen it sucks.

Building trust is very hard. That is what I wish for - to come out trusting and strong friends again. Little betrayals can cause a lot of damage if done over and over again too but I know he is committed to making up for that aspect. And he knows I understand all perspectives even when I am hurt or ask for a behaviour change and that I expect the same from myself if needed.

I LOVE that you said you can see our love. That is hopeful to me and a treasured comment. It has been a VERY rough year and mono sealed the deal so I think depression was inevitable. I try to always look on the bright side even if I don’t feel it…but it has been a struggle. Every day I have to reframe my thinking just to get up. I struggle with hating myself and all my flaws- my weight, my discolouration on my face, my hair, my inability to do anything other than massage at physio but wanting to be strong and fierce like wonder woman…so many things that I know are surface but hitting home more due to depression. And then there is sorting through all the emotions of grief that I held off…with my aunt, with my grandma, with my children’s grandmother…with so many aspects of normal life that need to be processed but require time I did not have fighting for a life that was not mine. I do not begrudge it but now it is my time in that sense.

Thank you for actually understanding and giving feedback. It makes me feel less alone. Esp hearing someone else saying it’s a lot cuz sometimes I wonder if I am being over dramatic… I appreciate it all.

S said...

Thank you for sharing your heart through this post. I have always loved two Anne's- Anne of Green gables and Anne Frank. Anne's childhood and her habits and personality was identical to my childhood personality and so I can relate. If I am to express myself without hiding and without being influenced by anyone then I would be her. Also, if I have to choose a life, I would go back to her kind of life again and again. Also, after reading your post, I have realized that I need to re-read the book because sometimes, I feel that I am loosing touch with what I really used to be and I want to rediscover myself in the midst of a puzzled/confusing identity crisis that the modern city life has created in me.

Kmarie A. said...

S: Aw I am glad I inspired you to re read it. I hope one day you will have access to the Sullivan movies too! I do think it helps to get re back in touch with nature and self:) xoxo

Full Spectrum Mama said...

SO beautiful. And I very much relate! As usual...

Thank you for sharing this sensitive and nuanced and complex analysis of a text and shows which i have never seen but which nonetheless touched me deeply.

I wish I could subscribe to your blog - it's only when my overwhelmed brain has the space to remember that I check in - and what you've written always speaks so directly to my soul.

Thanks and much love,
Full Spectrum Mama

Kmarie A. said...

@full spectrum mama:

Thank you so much. On a quick note- on my side there is my google plus account and if you have google it will post it to you whenever I write a new one. I also hear there is a way to put it in a reader so you can be updated in that by copying my main top link:) . Also if you wish you can send me an email with your email addy in it and I send a small list of emails out whenever i post with the request that if people comment back that they do so on the website if possible because I believe they benefit others ( peoples comments) Most just read and dont comment anyway and that is fine too. I should make it easier but I dont because I only want readers who really want to be here...and I am so private...but I would welcome you to email me and I CAN add you to the list...

I would highly recommend you watch the 1985 and 86 Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables the Sequel. It is full of beautiful quotes, relationships ectt. You can order it online and it is worth the price! I have showed it to people who typically hate oldies who ended up adoring it on some level or feel comforted.

I am honoured that you were touched deeply even without seeing it. That means a lot.:) I am glad you could relate!

Kmarie A. said...

It is the Anne of Green Gables collection By Kevin Sullivan - It comes with part one and 2 of anne of green gables and part one and two of Anne of green gables the also comes with a horribly ill conceived Anne the continuing story years later but all true fans ignore that one... It truly ends at the sequel.:)

dojuma said...

I watched and i really enjoyed thanks a lot for the good post

Kmarie A. said...

Dojuma I am glad u enjoyed: happy weekend 😊