Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning is a 2008 TV film directed by Kevin Sullivan. It was preceded by Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story and first aired on December 14, 2008.
- It’s the mid 1940s, and the war in Europe is winding down. Anne Shirley – now a successful, middle-aged writer – has returned to Prince Edward Island for an extended visit. On a whim, she’s agreed to write a play for theatre producer and friend, Gene Armstrong; a play that will be performed as part of the White Sands Hotel 1945 summer stock season.
Anne is forced to admit that the play is nothing more than a distraction: a way to take her mind off troublesome recent events in her life. Her only son Dominic has yet to return from the war. The play, she reasons, will keep her busy, at least busy enough to keep her from going out of her mind with worry.
Attempting to gain inspiration for her new play, she returns to Green Gables in an attempt to cure her writer’s block. But a long-hidden secret discovered under the floorboards at Green Gables, in the form of a mysterious letter from her long lost father, provides a distraction of its own. As Anne struggles to complete the play she has promised to Gene, she delves into long-buried memories, reliving the troubled years before she arrived as an orphan at the Cuthberts’ farmhouse.
After crushing circumstances bring about the death of Anne’s mother and her ne’er-do-well father, Walter Shirley leaves town, Anne’s innocent world is turned upside down. Taken into the care of the Bolingbroke County Poorhouse, she is mistreated by the Superintendent, his wife, and the other inmates. She gains the courage to escape the horrible conditions and eventually finds refuge in the care of her mother’s closest friend, Louisa Thomas.
Along with Louisa’s three children, Violetta, Jock and Keith, Anne travels to Marysville, New Brunswick to take up residence with the family matriarch, Amelia Thomas. A prominent, strong-minded business woman and sole overseer of the Thomas family industries, Amelia doesn’t take to having the young orphan move into her home and she is even more intolerant of Louisa showing up with a “stray child”.
After much pleading, Anne is permitted to stay on as a mere stable hand. Her integrity is questioned by Amelia’s miserable housekeeper, Hepzibah Leach, who is intent on making the child’s life extremely difficult. However, when word erupts that the workers in the Thomas mills are ready to revolt, and Anne realizes her own father is part of the uprising, she finds herself a pawn in the battle between the Town and Amelia Thomas. Through the intervention of a mysterious loner named Nellie Parkhurst, Walter Shirley manages to reconnect with Anne and attempts to make himself part of her life again. Catastrophe intervenes, Amelia and Anne are torn apart and Anne finds herself homeless and deserted by both her father and Louisa once more.
After forty years of being separated from her father, when Anne responds to the long-lost letter she senses a faint expectation that it may not be too late to connect once again. She has so many unanswered questions and she hopes that a newly established correspondence with him will yield answers. Ultimately the reunion with her aged father holds as much disappointment for Anne as his disappearance from her childhood.
Anne ultimately succeeds in writing the play which Gene enthusiastically puts into production. Looking back on her life, however, she realizes that her distant and troubled memories do not provide the key to reconciling the many quandaries in her life. She concludes that all of the good and the bad that she has experienced have made her strong and given her an uncommon voice. She has struggled to be accepted all her life, but she realizes in the end that the more love a person gives in life, the easier is to find. When Dominic returns from the war with a fiancée and wedding plans unfold, Anne realizes how extraordinary her life has been, because of the unique closeness she has established with family, friends and community.
Behind the scenes
- Barbara Hershey had never read Anne of Green Gables. She didn’t read it after getting the part of Anne, either, because she wanted to “approach the mature Anne in a fresh, alternative way”.
- Hannah Endicott-Douglas has blue eyes, however, Anne Shirley's eyes were green. For this film, Hannah’s eyes were digitally changed in post-production to be green.
- Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning was the first Anne film to be posted in high definition.
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