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Friday Feature || Better Late than Never: My thoughts on Netflix and CBC’s “Anne with an E.”

Cast: Amybeth McNulty, Geraldine James, RH Thompson, Dalila Bela, Lucas Jade Zumann, Corinne Koslo
First and second series/season released by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Netflix, 2017 and 2018

Having grown up reading Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books always makes me excited and wary whenever a screen adaptation of her work is on the television. After all, it’s not everyday that it happens. I won’t lie–I’ll always have high expectations.

Take Anne of Green Gablesfor example. No child who grew up in the eighties and nineties could ever forget Megan Follows’ portrayal of the lovable redheaded orphan. While Kevin Sullivan wasn’t exactly faithful to the plot (coughContinuingStorycough), it was a good adaptation. After all, it’s hard to jam in eight books into more or less two or three more series–or episodes, rather. I’ve yet to see Rilla of Ingleside adapted into a screenplay–something I’d hope to see in my lifetime.

Back to Anne of Green Gables. Last year, Netflix released their take on the aforementioned book, but they titled it Anne with an E. I’ve already finished watching the second series/season, and I love it just as much as I loved the Kevin Sullivan production (well, except for Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story).

.And yep, Netflix wasn’t faithful to the source material, either. I am however, giving five reasons why Anne with an E is still worth a watch.

  1. The characters, while  some of them not entirely in keeping with the books, still managed to be well-rounded. And I loved the best friend dynamics between Anne and Diana. For some reason, the portrayal of their friendship was so authentic and you would just want to hug them both. Not that Megan Follows and Schuyler Grant didn’t do a good job–but Amybeth McNulty and Dalila Bela put a wonderful, sweet, homey spin to it. Oh, you know what I mean.
  2. The storyline doesn’t just focus on Anne Shirley, but on other characters too. Here, in the series, we get a glimpse of Diana Barry’s life, in Jane and Prissy Andrews’ life, in Gilbert Blythe’s life–you get the picture. The viewer gets a chance to know them more.
  3. The filming location is 100% lush. I have friends who rave about how much they love Canada, but man, I probably did not receive the memo about how BEAUTIFUL Canada is (in addition to being fabulous). Prince Edward Island is stunning. I can go on all evening.
  4. It’s a bit darker, but it fits perfectly. Initially, I wasn’t sold on the theme, but when I watched the first series another time, it grew on me. The series touched on topics such as bullying, racial prejudice, and peer pressure, matters that are terribly relevant today. This was grittily yet beautifully portrayed in the second series. The second to the last sentence does sound ironic, but it is true.
  5. Yes, Megan Follows was best known for playing the titular role. I’m going to risk getting a lot of hate–because Amybeth McNulty made a very engaging Anne, and I do think she deserves to tie with Megan in that top spot.  The way she delivers her lines (majority of which weren’t in the source material)–there was so much emotion, that it felt like every time she opened her mouth, jewels and flowers fell out. Consider me a fan, stat.

That being said, I hope you would give Anne with an E a try! 🙂 Any Netflix recommendations, by the way? 🙂

Image credits: screencaps from the show

Friday Fact || In Flanders fields, where poppies blow

In history and literature, there’s no other flower that has made a mark than the poppy.

Poppies (scientific name: papaveracaeae) are small flowering plants, often herbaceous, often grown for their flowers. They have also been used for medicine. One species, the papaver somniferum is the source of opium.

So, how did the poppy gain so much significance?

It was during the First World War where trench warfare in France was raging. So many men and animals have died, and their blood, along with the nitrogen from explosives and lime from shattered infrastructures such as houses and buildings, fertilised the soil to such an extent that poppies flooded the fields of France and Belgium. Constant bombardment of the soil also disturbed the iy, bringing the seeds to the surface.

And the longer the war raged, more soldiers were being killed, the more the poppies thrived.

Soldiers wrote home about the poppies, and so did the poets. One of them was John McCrae, a Canadian doctor at a field hospital. He wrote In Flanders Fields after burying his friend, a fellow officer in the Canadian army. The poem was published in Punch, a popular publication. In millennial-speak, the poem became “viral” almost immediately. The poppies became the symbol of the war dead; the souls of soldiers killed in action between 1914 and 1918 becoming flowers.

An American professor named Moina Michael brought about the poppies’ “popularity”. Inspired by McCrae’s poem, she wore a poppy in remembrance of the fallen soldiers. Moina also helped out in war efforts, assisting in training YMCA workers. After the war, while holding classes for disabled servicemen, Moina realised that she needed to provide continual financial assistance to those servicemen. This prompted her to sell silk poppies as a means of raising funds for the veterans.

In 1921, her efforts have resulted in the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance in America, as well as Britain.

You can learn more about the First World War here, here, and here.

Reference and image source here.

Reference for Moina Michael

Friday Finds || Abbey Sy’s The ABCs of Journaling

The ABCs of Journaling

Abbey Sy

Hardbound, 121 pages, with full colour illustrations and photographs

Published by Summit Books

I have been following Abbey Sy’s work ever since I attended the Type Lab event almost three years ago. She is phenomenal–there’s her website to prove it! One look at her book–The ABCs of Hand Lettering–and it was typography love at first sight for me, and also the start of my somewhat muted journey into learning about calligraphy and typography.

Back then, before law school happened, I loved to pour out my innermost thoughts, and put them on paper. They were pretty much emo-laden thoughts (not exactly proud of that haha)–and although I cringe about what I have written back then, I pretty much enjoyed making it look pretty all the same.  Read More

Friday Feature || Testament of Youth (2014)

 Cast: Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Emily Watson, Hayley Atwell, Dominic West, Miranda Richardson, Colin Morgan, Taron Egerton, Alexandra Roach

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a weakness for period films. Particularly during the Victorian and post-Edwardian period.

Lately, I am interested in the events during the First World War–did a bit of reading–and would love to read more. I came across this book, Testament of Youth, on which this movie is based. Testament of Youth is the story of a real-life young woman named Vera Brittain, who worked as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse during the First World War–or the Great War, as it was known then.

At the start of the story, Vera (Vikander) struggles to be allowed by her father to attend Oxford. At that time, it wasn’t the done thing for a young woman from the upper middle and upper classes in post-Edwardian England to pursue higher education. Finally, after her younger brother Edward (Egerton) persuades their father to allow Vera to attend Oxford, Vera prepares for the Entrance Examination. She eventually gets in, including her brother and his friends, one of which was Roland Leighton (Harington) who became Vera’s fiance.

Their peaceful world was shattered when England declared war against Germany. Vera’s brother Edward went to war, as well as his friends Victor (Morgan) and Roland. Vera ended up going to Oxford alone, but after seeing some hospital beds and nurses within the university vicinity, Vera, despite the resistance of her tutor, signed up to be a VAD nurse.

Tragedy met Vera three times. Her fiance, Roland was killed in 1915, her friend Victor in 1917, and finally her brother Edward, in 1918. Vera returns to Oxford, continuing what she left. There she meets Winifred Holtby, and was encouraged by Winifred to “get up, get dressed and eat.” Vera and Winifred became firm friends–I read somewhere that they remained so until Winifred’s death in 1935 due to renal failure.

One scene in particular, moved me so much that I memorised what Vera said. It was that scene where Vera was at a meeting or talk of some sort with the question: Should Germany Pay? After being mocked slightly, she delivers this speech. I only managed to memorise part of it, and I do think that even in this day and age, it is still applicable.

“It was their hands too that I was holding. Their pain was the same pain–their blood is the same blood. Our grief is the same grief as the grief of hundreds of thousands of German women and men. I speak to those of us who are left behind. The mothers, sisters, women–we sent our men to war–I fought my father to let my brother go. Because they think it’s the right thing. The honourable thing.

I can only stand here and ask you–is it? Is it right? Can I accept the courage to accept that there might be another way. Perhaps their deaths have meaning only if we stand together now and say no. No to killing. No to war. No to the endless cycle of revenge. I say, no more of it. No more.”

Another thing that has captured my interest is the scenery. I don’t know why, but it was magical to see those wild, green moors, the coves, and the sea. Oh, and the University of Oxford! To me, the locations are characters of some sort, as it gives the atmosphere, and it sets the tone of the story–or the movie, rather. And they did, very well.

Has any one of you seen the movie? How has it impacted you?

Image credit here.