Summary
Novel to Screenplay
Auditions and Casting
On Location
Relationships on the Set
Actors on their Roles
Applause and Awards
Film Stills
Publicity Poses

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: THE CONTINUING STORY (1999)

Summary

Sullivan Entertainment's final installment of the "Anne of Green Gables" trilogy is loosely based on the characters and setting from L.M. Montgomery's novels. In the concluding installment, Megan Follows returns in her memorable role of Anne Shirley. Now grown up, Anne and her fiance, Gilbert Blythe (Jonathan Crombie), return to Avonlea for the first time since Marilla Cuthbert's death. After visiting Diana Barry (Schuyler Grant) and a host of familiar characters from the first two miniseries, Gilbert persuades Anne to join him in New York City, where he will begin his medical tenure. Hoping to become a published writer, Anne joins a publishing firm and there meets a dashing yet arrogant novelist, Jack Garrison. After Gilbert and Anne face the disillusioning realities of their professions, they decide to return to Avonlea and finally get married. Their happiness is short-lived, however, when Gilbert enlists to serve in the first World War in Europe. After a series of harrowing events, including a chance encounter with Jack, Anne embarks on a journey that takes her through the horrors of war to find her true love, Gilbert.

This film is made for television and not rated.


From Novel to Screenplay

For ten years after the "Anne of Avonlea" miniseries, screenwriter/director/producer Kevin Sullivan had no official plans for a final installment. However, the letters and emails requesting a reunion for Anne and Gilbert continued pouring in: "I thought I did complete the story, but people seemed to think not. They all felt that we had left Anne and Gilbert hanging on this bridge: Did they get married or didn't they get married? Well, to me, it seemed perfectly obvious that they were going to get married, but to a lot of other people it wasn't." 1 Sullivan adds: "Avonlea and Green Gables [didn't] seem to have lost their allure. People [were] still writing in with their questions, comments and suggestions on where they hope[d] the stories will go...[Also,] I came to the conclusion that 'The Sequel' left the story incomplete." 2

Producer Trudy Grant (also Sullivan's wife) adds: "We [were] buoyed by the fact the popularity of Avonlea and Green Gables has endured. It shows that people appreciate and want quality, family programming." 3

In 1995, Sullivan considered filming a third "Anne" miniseries based on Montgomery's Rilla of Ingleside, which would have depicted a grown up Anne and Gilbert, raising their daughter Rilla.

The third installment, "Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story" departed drastically from Montgomery's books. By the time Sullivan finally decided to produce the third film, Dewhurst sadly had passed away. In addition, Sullivan had finished producing the popular award-winning Canadian television series, "Road to Avonlea," which had already borrowed stories from Montgomery's other books. So Sullivan decided to create his own fiction for Anne Shirley, picking up a storyline shortly after Marilla's death. In addition, Sullivan decided to write the third installment around the events of the first World War, a chronological inaccuracy. In actuality, Anne Shirley would have been in her fifties during the war!

Sullivan remarks of the third film: "Lucy Maud Montgomery's original Anne of Green Gables books were based in the 1880s, and the books she wrote about World War I dealt with Anne's children, not Anne, going off to war. However, our 1985 and 1987 miniseries had Anne growing up in the early 1900s, which meant that Anne and Gilbert would be in their early twenties at the time of World War I." 4 Sullivan adds that this led to a natural question: "What if Anne and Gilbert went to war? It started with, `Did Anne and Gilbert get married, and how?' but their lives became caught up in other, much larger events... This allowed us to develop a completely original story that would take them through the war and allow Anne the dramatic opportunity to resolve her relationship with Gilbert and to find resolution in her own life." 5

Sullivan continues: "In Montgomery's later books, Anne's children went off to war. But most people haven't read those books, and in the world of Avonlea, we wanted to keep our world in sync. It's a departure from the world of Montgomery. Her stories of the war were uneventful, but read her diaries and they are different. There's a strong humanity in that writing... My biggest problem was that, after doing these other two miniseries, I could not do a story where Anne and Gilbert just got married and had a family. There was no drama in that, yet that's what happened in the (subsequent books) that Montgomery had written. If you read them, they're sweet and homespun ... but there really wasn't a story." 6

Sullivan adds: "The sequel left the story incomplete. In this film, the central theme is the completion of the orphan trilogy. Anne comes full circle -- growing from a lonely orphan with a wild imagination to an independent girl, a teacher, a writer and finally, an adult... Anne's life comes full circle as she learns to find happiness within herself, apart from the security of Green Gables; and as an adult learns about the process of self-sacrifice... Gilbert goes to war without having married his one true love. It's a very touching story and Anne's world is thrown into upheaval before she finally realizes she can't lose Gilbert and seeks him out on the battlefields of World War I." 7

Sullivan also remarks that the brand new storyline was "a way of putting closure on the world [of Avonlea]. It demonstrates to people ... that the world significantly changed with the First World War, that it was impossible to go back to old ways of thinking." 8

Of the departure from Montgomery's work, Sullivan adds: "It was simply time to shake things up a little. Both Anne and Gilbert Blythe have grown up and married. This is a much more adult miniseries... Lucy Maud Montgomery's original books were based in the 1880s. Her First World War stories dealt with Anne's children. However, we set Anne and Gilbert's wedding during the war, so why not take advantage of world events?" 9 Sullivan continues: "The first miniseries was fairly close to [the original books] and the second had much more original material. Montgomery's novels don't translate well to television, but the original concepts do." 10

Sullivan insists that despite the brand new storyline, the third installment borrowed elements from the first two films. For example, Sullivan believes that true aficionados appreciate a scene where Anne Shirley uses bullet shells and a wood stove to get out of a tight spot, which was inspired by a scene from "Anne of Avonlea," where the Pringle girls in Anne's classroom pull a prank with firecrackers and a wood stove.

As for the future of the "Anne" enterprise, Sullivan has no plans for another sequel: "Put it this way. I certainly don't have a concept at my fingertips of what we should do with Anne after this." 11


Auditions and Casting

Nearly fifteen years after the first film was produced, Sullivan had little problem signing on several of the original cast members for his final installment, "Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story." Follows, however, admits that it took some persuasion for her to agree to do the third film: "I took a little convincing. The attempt had to be, on my part, something I could believe in at least, because of how important the character was to me, how important she was to other people." 12

Before the third installment, Follows kept Anne Shirley far from her mind: "I left her where she was. I deliberately had not done any of the (Road to Avonlea) series. I stayed away from it because I had wanted to leave the Anne story where it had been left... I took a long hiatus from her and explored a lot of other things in my life and through my work that I needed to do. It was only after I had tasted from other experiences that I was ready to revisit her." 13

Follows also adds that living in Los Angeles for the past decade had allowed her to avoid the typecasting she would have endured in her native Canada: "[In the United States], it's not that you're identified with the role as much as it is that you've accomplished something successful." 14 Still, Follows adds: "I've always loved Anne. There's always great potential for her. She's a character that absolutely anything can happen to, and that's really a wonderful gift for a performer to be able to play... And it has its own host of challenges, trying to get through it." 15

Kevin Sullivan adds that assembling the cast and crew for the third installment wasn't a difficult task, because many had worked on "Road to Avonlea," Sullivan's television series. "Megan had shied away from `[Road to] Avonlea' [but] her life has unfolded and she was a decade older and felt differently about doing the part." 16

Australian actor Cameron Daddo had never read any of Montgomery's books before signing on for the third installment. He admits that didn't know what he was getting into until he flew to Montreal for the shoot. A flight attendant inquired about his project and Daddo unwittingly said the magic word: "Anne": "She dove across me to the vacant seat and wanted me to tell her all about it. She filled me in on how huge the prior two shows were... I managed to get off the plane with the script [still] in my hands." 17


On Location

"The Continuing Story" was filmed from September into December 1998. Megan Follows recalls that it was difficult work, with a lot of war scenes and shooting in the trenches. There were many changes in the script during the filming and "really long days", none shorter than 14 hours and some as long as 21 hours.18

On making the third film, Follows remarked during the beginning of the shoot: "I really can't say what single part of the film I like the most. The whole production and being able to work with Sullivan again is an overall treat comparing the experience to when I was younger." 19

As the filming progressed, however, Follows again clashed with Sullivan in certain respects. For example, Follows wanted to keep Anne as the headstrong, independent character audiences have grown to love over the years. In addition, she disagreed with Sullivan over the story line, comparing it to the television show, "McGyver" rather than a creation that L.M. Montgomery would have enjoyed: "That was one of the big challenges in performing in the film. [Coincidence] is something that Mr. Sullivan seems really wedded to. It's been my experience that it's part of his storytelling. He is master of that ship, and what he wants, he gets ultimately. The rest of us do our best to make sense as best as we can."20

Follows continues that although she agreed to return to do the film because she was initially excited by a story that gave Anne greater scope, "bringing it to fruition was another thing. It was a lot of hard work, an incredible challenge and ... I had probably my own feelings about who I thought [Anne] was. That was sort of indulged up to a point, and then ultimately, when you work with Mr. Sullivan, it really is how he sees it and what he wants." 21

Sullivan responds: "Megan is a perfectionist. In this project, the scale of it was so much larger than the other (miniseries). She maybe wasn't as influential on it. I kept saying to her along the way if you feel like the world is out of control, that's the way Anne feels. If you don't feel all these pieces integrate together, neither does your character." 22

Sullivan adds: "It wasn't meant to be so much McGyverish as to put the characters into a hypothetical situation and turn it into what Anne of Green Gables really is, which is a fantasy. It's much more of an adult miniseries because, for one thing, Anne and Gilbert are adults. Today, ten-year-olds are watching 'Titanic.' Things are just a lot more sophisticated." 23

In response, Follows remarks: "It's not `Anne of Dawson's Creek.' It's not `Charmed.' That's why Anne has the following she has. Yes, audiences have changed, but I think the thing with Anne is you have a very special character who has an audience that crosses a lot of ages and demographics. I think we sometimes underestimate the imaginations of an audience, particularly with a character like Anne... I oftentimes felt I was trying very hard to fight for who I thought Anne was. We were not always in agreement about that, I'll put it that way. And ultimately, [Sullivan] is the master of the ship and he gets to tell the story he wants to tell... What Mr. Sullivan wants, Mr. Sullivan usually gets." 24 In the end, Follows remarks: "It was probably one of the more difficult filming jobs I've ever had in my life."25

Returning to Green Gables involved another element of heartache. Follows missed her costar Dewhurst from the earlier installments: "It was definitely strange to go back to some of those locations and think of her. She's so associated in my memories with those places... [T]here was a melancholy to it." 26 Even hearing Dewhurst's voice spliced into the film brought tears to Follows: "It was very strange hearing Colleen's voice because that would have been added later on when they were mixing this latest installment. It made me very sad just to hear her voice." 27

There also a big difference in where the scenes where shot in the third installment. Most of the film was shot in southern Ontario, and many scenes were set within an hour of the Toronto-based studio. Compared to the locations of the first two installments, many of the locations "were more in the country 10 to 15 years ago. Some of those places are not as idyllic now because the city has expanded. It was hard to get back to the sounds of the past." 28

Follows also recalls the challenges of acting in one of the final scenes where Anne disguises herself as a nun: "The story is not always following a believable line but must be played believably. There I am, in a nun's habit, doing this totally unbelievable thing, trying to make it believable and natural. But that's acting!" 29 Follows adds: "And there was a lot of potentially melodramatic stuff, like finding somebody in a field hospital, having somebody die in your arms and telling somebody you promise to look after their baby. I hope I didn't play it melodramatically. I hope I played it believably." 30

Follows also adds that it was challenging to work with three sets of twins who played the baby whom Anne looks after during the war.

On the third installment, Australian actor Cameron Daddo remarks that he was surprised by the instant attention he received for being part of the most anticipated Canadian project in years: "It was even funnier when I told [people] I played the man who comes between Anne and Gilbert. They'd say, 'No, I hate you!' " 31

Although nearly the entire cast had worked together on the first two miniseries, Daddo says he didn't feel awkward as the rookie on set: "That was fine by me. Art always imitates life and there it was. They're all one big happy family and I come in a stir it up." 32

By the time the final "Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story" was filmed, technology had advanced dramatically from the first two films. For example, sound effects editor Mark Beck supplied background "sounds of the outdoors," such as wind tracks and birds chirping, that made each scene appear more realistic. 33 In addition, Sullivan adds: "The use of digital technology emancipated us from having to shoot on authentic locations."34

For example, director Stefan Scaini explains: "Since there are [no train stations] suitable in Canada, we transformed a variety of locations - the University of Toronto, a chalet atop Mount Royal in Montreal, even the hallway of a psychiatric hospital - into [authentic European] stations. Digital technology even transformed a Toronto parking lot and Toronto's National Club, into the equivalent of a hotel in the sophisticated Mayfair district of London." 35

In a scene of a bustling London train station, special effects supervisor Tony Willis first had a scene shot on location in Montreal. The visual effects team spliced out the background and foreground, and digitally added various shots of seventy extras to make a crowd of a few hundred. The team then digitally added scattered baggage, benches and even an old station clock.

The visual-effects team, led by Willis, used green-screen shoots and matte paintings to re-create historic events for the film -- such as a scene when soldiers are climbing a loading plank onto a ship. The soldiers were filmed climbing a ladder against a green screen, and a painting of a World War I-era ship was added during the editing. Digital technology transformed various locations and enabled editors to layer shots of crowds so that scenes filmed with 200 extras looked like hundreds more.

On the use of digital effects, Sullivan comments: "Almost any time you need to create a greater scale, you look at digital technology." 36 Such techniques also helped keep costs down, bringing the total cost of filming "The Continuing Story" to $8 million.

The digital aspects were "relatively new" to Follows. "It's beyond an actor's control what will be added later." 37 With the use of the green screens, Follows needed to know what information would be edited in but had "to act as though something is there" when it isn't. "It's a challenge to stay focused." 38

Ruth Secord, costume designer for the third installment was faced with the challenge of recreating authentic period costumes for 85 cast members and 3,000 extras in eight short weeks. Because the film is set in Canada, the United States, France, Britain and Germany, Secord was not only required to create civilian wardrobes indigenous to each country, but had to create authentic individual military uniforms of all five countries. Because people are physically larger than people who lived fifty years ago, most of the actors are not able to fit into original period pieces. One special character, however, had an original: "Gilbert's Canadian army uniform was an original and based on that, we tailored the many others required for the film." 39 Secord adds: "Having not done the other two [Anne films] was my biggest challenge." 40

Secord remarks that the wardrobes were created to define the mood of each city. In springtime New York, the costumes were made to look "sophisticated and stylish" and, wartime London's look was "somber and more functional." 41 In Prince Edward Island, the producers maintained the "fairytale look" associated with the enchanting feel of Green Gables. 42


Relationships On and Off the Set

After a ten-year absence from her costars, actress Megan Follows was grateful for the opportunity to finally reunite with her cast members: "I had managed to keep in touch with some of them, but it was a scream for all us being back there. Jonathan Crombie makes me laugh so much." 43

When asked whether Follows prefers Crombie or Cameron Daddo (Jack Garrison) as an onscreen mate, Follows responds that Crombie was the better kisser and that of course, Anne should end up with Gilbert.


The Actors on Their Roles

Of the Anne Shirley portrayed in the third installment, Megan Follows remarks: "It's definitely not the Anne that any of us remember... It's definitely a different tale with familiar characters... It's ultimately the Anne Mr. Sullivan wants people to remember." 44

Follows adds: "Anne's a pretty special character, so there would have to be a lot for her to do. She'd have to be up to all kinds of things, whether it was in her mind or externally. She's not a sedentary kind of person." 45 Follows adds that "The Continuing Story" "is very different from the other two, quite epic in scope, with lots of drama and crises for our heroine to get to the end." 46

Follows faced the lead role "with some trepidation. Having played Anne before, I had all of the background work and my own experience of having done it. It was a matter of revisiting, but not reliving, it -- to create something new. Anything related to Green Gables and Gilbert felt more familiar, but there's a new dimension to their relationship, so you kind of jump in." 47

Follows continues: "Oh, I think there was a tremendous responsibilty. I certainly felt trepidation about it; I felt nervous. I think that's why it's taken a long time to consider following in those footsteps. The first two series were very strong. Also, it's a departure [from the original series] because most of the material from the books was used in the TV series, which I had nothing to do with. So there was a hesitancy for me to explore Anne again." 48

Follows adds: "At times, some things felt comfortable; some things felt difficult. It was an interesting line I had to walk through the character. I tried to find what was organic and original about her, as well as the things that were completely new - new elements. That's the exciting part of having so much to do with a character like Anne." 49

In refashioning a mature Anne Shirley, Follows decided to "go on the basis of what rang true to me" as Anne matures into a young married woman caught up in wartime danger. 50 "Ultimately, Anne is true to her feelings." 51 Follows adds that the directors "pretty much trusted my impulses about who Anne was and aspects of her character." 51 Although Anne no longer chatters constantly, she retains "her humor, the quality of her that is gullible and headstrong. She doesn't sit on the fence with her feelings. She feels things one way or the other, which is a big part of who she is. She becomes a writer so she can use her imagination and get paid for it. I looked for ways her temper would flare up but not, any more, get the better of her. When she slaps Jack, it does get the better of her." 52

Follows was pleased that Anne "is not endlessly good. She doesn't make everything go right. I think that's why she is enjoyable to watch. You watch her deal with the situation after things have gone wrong. She is always well-intentioned. She rushes in and does things before she thinks through the consequences. That's a great part of who she is. She's spontaneous; she improvises." 53

Prior to taking on the new Anne Shirley, Follows had "spent a lot of time working in classical theater -- it's been a rite of passage to explore that area. Theater makes you a better actor, but not necessarily a better-known actor. ["The Continuing Story"] will reintroduce me to the American psyche and I may get more work of out of that... It would be lovely. But with or without me, Anne has quite a life of her own." 54

After the third installment, Follows remarks that Anne Shirley remains a cultural icon: "She's an orphan but she's a fairy tale, too. There's a bit of a Cinderella story. Anne is sort of like a Sherlock Holmes... where the characters themselves are so compelling, they take a life of their own." 55 Follows concludes that Anne is fascinating "because there is something about her that is identifiable and believable and something about the serenity of the place, Green Gables, that we kind of long for." 56

Follows concludes that there aren't many parts like Anne: "Once you've played a central character for four hours -- and I've done it three times -- it makes you hungry to be in that position again. It's harder to play other things. I really appreciate what a wonderful character Anne is. It's great to play a central character who is defined by who she is, not by her relationship to the men in the film. These men are kind of defined by her. She is the driving force." 57

On his role as Jack Garrison, actor Cameron Daddo remarks: "I think Jack's a bit of a stirrer. I guess he fell in love with Anne along the way and he wanted her for himself. I just saw him as a guy that was doing what he felt he needed to do... He's quite a complex character. Unfortunately the show wasn't called `Jack of Green Gables' so there was a lot to Jack that didn't make the script." 58

Actress Janet-Laine Green (Maude Montrose, an American social columnist working on a British paper in London, in "Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story") remarks of her character: "Maude is to be feared. She is actually doing spy work for the Americans. I felt like she was more of a Hedda Hopper type. She has a lot of attitude and is as famous as the celebrities she covers. She is sharp and brusque and dresses flamboyantly. She does hurt a lot of people - celebs and political figures feed her info." 59

Director/Producer Kevin Sullivan remarks of the Anne portrayed in this third installment: "In this latest film Anne resolves many of the inner character dilemmas that provided fuel for her outrageous personality in her early life. These dilemmas prompted her desire to find inner happiness, a quest which she resolves at the end of this production... Anne started off being a hyperactive, A-Type personality who tried to conform the community to her in order to be accepted. I think she discovers with this chapter that you can't do that in order to be happy in life... By putting her in an environment that was completely out of control, where she didn't understand how the pieces fit together, or what her life meant in terms of the people she cared about, it provided an important transition for her so that she could learn that happiness lies within." 60

Sullivan believes that Anne's strength is "in her noble character, that she doesn't waver from her moral center though she experiences insecurity ... she's learned to have happiness with someone she competed with and grew to love. She and Gil are a postmodern couple - - equal in intellect and willing to make sacrifices for each other." 61

Sullivan adds that in the third installment, "she has matured as a woman, knows what she wants and has a changed view of herself: to be happy within. She ends up coming to terms with that. The events around her are so large that she can't have an effect on them." 62 Sullivan also remarks: ''My thesis ... was to take Anne's character and allow her to mature and really put to rest many of the character flaws that make her so appealing... She's a very strong character... All you have to do is put Anne in any situation and, if you know the fundamentals of her character well enough, the character comes to life and acts in a certain way." 63

If Anne Shirley did live through the World War, Sullivan remarks that "either Anne stays at home or she's right into the thick of it." 64 And given her temperament, the latter is more likely: "You can't underplay her; it isn't her personality." 65

Sullivan remarks that viewers will be disappointed in the Anne portrayed in the third installment "if they are coming to watch her as a child when her world was timeless, romantic, unending. Ultimately Anne was forced to grow up." 66


Applause, Awards and the Aftermath

Megan Follows has avoided seeing the finished third installment, for fear that it is flawed: "Sometimes I felt like we really kind of hit the mark and sometimes I don't know." 67 However, Follows remarks that in general, "I'm very happy that [people have] gotten something from some of the work I've done. I can't really ask for much more." 68

Follows admits that her young children have yet to see any of the 'Anne' films: "My children have never seen the show. I want to read the book to them beforehand. [Recently], we pulled it off the shelf and read the first three chapters. We were sitting by the fireplace reading that. It was very funny to be sitting there reading: 'You don't want me because I'm not a boy.' All those scenes were right out of the book. And it's such a great story. They loved it." 69


Film Stills


Publicity Poses


Desktop Wallpapers


Footnotes: 1. Unknown source; citation pending. 2. Unknown source; citation pending. 3. Unknown source; citation pending. 4. Unknown source; citation pending. 5. Unknown source; citation pending. 6. Unknown source; citation pending. 7. Unknown source; citation pending. 8. Unknown source; citation pending. 9. Unknown source; citation pending. 10. Unknown source; citation pending. 11. Bill Brioux, "Little Anne Grows Up," Toronto Sun (March 3, 2000). 12. Tyler Mcleod, "Megan Follows Anne", Calgary Sun (March 5, 2000) (hereinafter "Megan Follows Anne"). 13. Id. 14. Unknown source; citation pending. 15. Unknown source; citation pending. 16. Unknown source; citation pending. 17. Tyler Mcleod, "Anne and the Aussie," Calgary Sun (March 3, 2000) (hereinafter "Aussie"). 18. Unknown source; citation pending. 19. Unknown source; citation pending. 20. Unknown source; citation pending. 21. Unknown source; citation pending. 22. Unknown source; citation pending. 23. Unknown source; citation pending. 24. Unknown source; citation pending. 25. Brioux, supra. 26. "Megan Follows Anne," supra. 27. Unknown source; citation pending. 28. Unknown source; citation pending. 29. Unknown source; citation pending. 30. Unknown source; citation pending. 31. "Aussie," supra. 32. Id. 33. Unknown source; citation pending. 34. Unknown source; citation pending. 35. Unknown source; citation pending. 36. Unknown source; citation pending. 37. Unknown source; citation pending. 38. Unknown source; citation pending. 39. Unknown source; citation pending. 40. Unknown source; citation pending. 41. Unknown source; citation pending. 42. Unknown source; citation pending. 43. "Megan Follows Anne," supra. 44. Id. 45. Id. 46. Unknown source; citation pending. 47. Unknown source; citation pending. 48. Dick Gordon, "Megan Follows' Anne Shirley Comes Home Again," This Morning (March 5, 2000). 49. Unknown source; citation pending. 50. Unknown source; citation pending. 51. Unknown source; citation pending. 52. Unknown source; citation pending. 53. Unknown source; citation pending. 54. Unknown source; citation pending. 55. Unknown source; citation pending. 56. Unknown source; citation pending. 57. Unknown source; citation pending. 58. "Aussie," supra. 59. Unknown source; citation pending. 60. Brioux, supra. 61. Unknown source; citation pending. 62. Unknown source; citation pending. 63. Unknown source; citation pending. 64. Unknown source; citation pending. 65. Unknown source; citation pending. 66. Unknown source; citation pending. 67. Unknown source; citation pending. 68. Unknown source; citation pending. 69. "Megan Follows Anne," supra.