Following the success of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, Kevin Sullivan created Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story. When it was first released in 2000, #AnneFans wondered why this Sullivan Entertainment production didn’t follow the original story. Read on to find out why! If you’re asking yourself, “What is Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story?” READ THIS before moving on.
Now that you're all caught up, you know that Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story is a completely original work, penned by Kevin Sullivan. It aimed to bring Anne Shirley into a timeframe and storyline that had been developed over 91 episodes of the spin-off series, Road To Avonlea. The film includes a few characters from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novels, like Gilbert Blythe and Diana Barry, but deviates from her storyline completely.
In the original books, Anne and Gilbert get married and have a total of seven children between approximately 1895-1900. One of them dies in infancy and three of the kids fight in the first World War. But since Sullivan set his film 20 years after the books, it didn't make sense for Anne to have children who were going off to war in 1914.
Instead, in Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story, a twenty-something year-old Anne finds herself on the battlefield. Anne and Gilbert still get married, and he becomes a doctor, but that’s where the similarities between the film and the novels end. Anne tries to break into the world of writing in a male-dominated publishing company in New York while Gilbert struggles with ethical choices in the medical field.
Diana’s husband decides to leave his family to fight in the war in Europe, and Gilbert makes the decision to offer his medical services to the soldiers overseas. Anne grows tired of sitting around, waiting for news from the war efforts and ends up going to war with the intention of bringing Gilbert home. However, after weeks and months spent tirelessly searching for him, Anne just about gives up any hope of finding her love.
"It's about losing someone you think is gone forever, and then finding them again." - Kevin Sullivan
When the film was released, some #AnneFans were bewildered with the change in tone. But Sullivan said that's what he was aiming for. "Anne's home at Green Gables was no longer the same innocent place, which was metaphor for her life in that stage. She had to grow up."
Some fans of Montgomery's book series really wanted to see the rest of her novels played out on screen, but were shocked when the third film came out, since it had an entirely different storyline. When asked about any backlash his film received, Sullivan said, "It's your prerogative as a filmmaker to tell a story, and you don’t go into it asking if people will like it." He wanted to tell an interesting story that was on par with Montgomery's style. Sullivan wanted the film to seem so real that it could transport people through time.
"What I tried to do when I was creating the story was to do it with impunity. I did my best to create a completely believable world. If YOU can feel like you've experienced WW1 in your mind after watching the film, I have succeeded in bringing it to life." - Kevin Sullivan
When asked how he prepared to write the film, he said he researched, read books, invented then reinvented new characters, and wrote a believable storyline. "If people get it, great! If they don't, then maybe they need to look at it again to see what's deeper at play," he said. "What I feel I did successfully, and what I feel like people need to understand, is that I wrote the characters with as much authenticity to Montgomery's characters as possible. The dialogue sounds just like Montgomery. It was about making the characters authentic as they go through new and different experiences."