Sunday, May 14, 2017

Anne with an E

The new rendition of the Canadian children's classic gives the tale of Anne of Green Gables a needless feminist slant. According to Vanity Fair:
Still, none of the many, many other Anne adaptations stray so disastrously far from the spirit of Montgomery’s original books—and the result is a gloomy series with grim, life-or-death stakes draped over the bones of something beloved, warm-hearted, and familiar. The milestones are still there—currant wine, broken slates, puffed sleeves—but seen through a glass darkly. Brave as the concept may be, it falls flat—and feels particularly unwelcome in an already grim 2017. For more specifics on what Anne with an E gets so terribly wrong, read past the spoiler warning (for a hundred-year-old story) below.

The first (as in, within the first minutes of the first episode) radical departure Anne with an E takes is to rather graphically depict—via chilly flashbacks—the years of abuse Anne sustained before she came to live with the Cuthberts. This is, admittedly, the most logical leap Walley-Beckett’s version takes: Anne’s life was bleak and lonely before she came to Green Gables. In the original book, L.M. Montgomery laid it out ever-so-delicately:
“O-o-o-h,” faltered Anne. Her sensitive little face suddenly flushed scarlet and embarrassment sat on her brow. “Oh, they meant to be—I know they meant to be just as good and kind as possible. And when people mean to be good to you, you don’t mind very much when they’re not quite—always. They had a good deal to worry them, you know. It’s very trying to have a drunken husband, you see; and it must be very trying to have twins three times in succession, don’t you think? But I feel sure they meant to be good to me.”
It’s no wonder that Anne with an E was inclined to make that subtext a bit more explicit. But while Anne likely did suffer some torment during her tenure with the Hammond family, Anne with an E ramps up the trauma by having Mr. Hammond die of a heart attack brought about by beating the tar out of poor Anne. (Read more.)
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Nancy Reyes said...

In Savings Mr Banks, theWalt Disney says: George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that's what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.

and that is what the author did: reframed her life story to stress the positive.

The series is... sad. The new series emphasis on "abuse" is emphasizing the negative, while making Anne an unpleasant character. But is that more "accurate"? If Anne was reality, one suspects it would be a more nuanced story than either miniseries.

elena maria vidal said...

Very good points.