It stars some cast members from the first two films, including Megan Follows (Anne Shirley), Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert Blythe), and Schuyler Grant (Diana Barry), as well as a few new faces. Written by Kevin Sullivan and directed by Stefan Scaini, this film showcases a completely original storyline, set 20 years after the original novel.
In case you have never encountered the world of Anne of Green Gables before, Kevin Sullivan's miniseries is based on the novels written by Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, in 1908. It tells the tale of a red-headed orphan girl named Anne Shirley who lives on Prince Edward Island. She gets adopted by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, an elderly brother and sister duo who live on a farm called Green Gables. Anne brings unexpected adventure into their lives with her curiosity and imagination.
This story, loosely based on L.M. Montgomery's life in PEI, became a series of books and were later adapted into films by Kevin Sullivan's entertainment company, Sullivan Entertainment. Over the course of about two decades, Sullivan created a miniseries that was later compiled into four 3-hour-long movies called, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story, and Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning.
Montgomery’s novels are set in the early 1870s. Sullivan chose to set the first Anne film, Anne of Green Gables, in 1900 and Anne of Avonlea (also known as Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel) in 1904 because he liked the look of that time period better. It made for a more aesthetically-pleasing film. Anne of Avonlea is loosely based off Montgomery's novels, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, and Anne of Windy Poplars.
After the success of the first two films, Sullivan made a spinoff series called Road to Avonlea. It followed a different story altogether, but still featured a few of the original characters and explored their lives in Avonlea. This story took place over 10 years, and by the time Road to Avonlea was finished, the chronology ended in 1914 with An Avonlea Christmas. That was the Road To Avonlea Christmas movie about Felix going off to war. It was set in 1914-1916 during the first World War.
When Sullivan created Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story, he had to continue the chronology of the story from Road to Avonlea. This meant there was a 25-year difference between Montgomery’s books and Sullivan’s movies. In the books, Anne is an older woman and her children go off to war. In Sullivan's film, he decided to make Anne the focus of the story and have her go off to war instead.
"Some people couldn't understand why I had chosen to show Anne going to war, but I wanted to show that Anne had to grow up." - Kevin Sullivan, writer of Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story
Anne Shirley was no longer the innocent, young girl. Now, she had grown into a strong, independent woman. She finally had her wedding with Gilbert and they began to follow their dreams! But then they ended up getting separated and going to war. The Green Gables farm also changes and becomes a metaphor for her life. Anne was once an orphan who was adopted by a loving family, and Sullivan brings that storyline full circle when Anne also adopts a child. The film explored themes of love, war, and not being able to go back to the innocence of the past.