Thursday, June 10, 2010

Top 15 Literary Adaptations: #13

Well, well, well. After a six-month hiatus, I am finally getting back to my Top 15 (non-Austen, non-Dickens) Literary Adaptations series. One of the reasons for my procrastination here (boy, am I good at procrastinating - just ask anyone from my family!) has been indecision as to the order in which to put the movies in this series. Already, I've mucked things up - in hindsight, I should have put Pollyanna at #14 The Inheritance at #15, The Railway Children at #13. . . but maybe I should stop fumbling around and just get on with the review already! :P It's been long enough coming!

~No. 13 - Pollyanna~

Pollyanna 2002
Amanda Burton as Aunt Polly, Georgina Terry as Pollyanna

Shortly after finishing the wonderful 2000 adaptation of The Railway Children, the same director and production team set about making a screen version of another beloved children's classic - Eleanor H. Porter's Pollyanna. It first aired in the UK in early 2003, and about a year later in the US.

Pollyanna 2002

Writing plot summaries is boring, so this time I'm going to cheat and borrow the synopsis from the Masterpiece Theatre Pollyanna page:

Pollyanna 2002
Pollyanna Whittier goes to live with her wealthy but bitter aunt after the tragic death of her father. Pollyanna shares a game her father taught her -- the 'Glad Game' -- in which everyone can find a silver lining in even the darkest cloud, and her sunny nature, good humor and determination to look on the bright side of life prove to have an astonishing effect on those around her.

Pollyanna 2002
Pollyanna and Jimmy Bean (Ben Thornton)

With the help of her orphaned friend, Jimmy Bean, she casts her spell on the grumpiest townsfolk of Beldingsville -- including the cynical shut-in Mrs. Snow, the morose millionaire Mr. Pendleton and the enigmatic Dr. Chilton. And Pollyanna masterminds the romance between her Aunt's maid, Nancy, and the handyman, Tim. It is only Aunt Polly, who cannot bring herself to embrace Pollyanna's innocence and joy.

Pollyanna 2002

But all is not straightforward in Pollyanna's war against pessimism, since she must overcome a personal tragedy that threatens to banish "glad" from her vocabulary forever.
Pollyanna 2002

It's a delightful family film. If you love other children's classics such as Anne of Green Gables, The Railway Children, or Heidi, you'll enjoy this. Georgina Terry does very well as the young heroine, and all of the grown-up actors are good, too, especially Amanda Burton as Aunt Polly. Period drama lovers will spot several familiar faces - including Kenneth Cranham, David Bamber, and the always-lovely Pam Ferris. 

Pollyanna 2002
Mrs. Snow (Pam Ferris), right

It's so rare to come across a children's film like this these days - gentle, quiet, warm, something you'd be happy to watch over and over with children or younger siblings. My three littlest sisters love this - it's one of my two-year-old sister's favourite movies! :-) But it will keep older viewers entertained, too - it's a very well-made production, the acting is uniformly good, and the script is funny and engaging. A movie for viewers of all ages to enjoy.

Pollyanna 2002

It will also bring a sense of nostalgia to anyone who read the book as a little girl. I read Pollyanna so many years ago now that I unfortunately can't compare the book with the movie. By all accounts, however, this is one of more faithful versions of Pollyanna around (much moreso than the 1960s Hayley Mills version, for instance). Probably the only major change from the book is the change of setting - from New England in America, to the "real" England across the Atlantic.

Pollyanna 2002

I'm going to go a bit off-topic here so please bear with me: I think it's sad that the majority of young girls today seem to be missing out on so many of the classic girls books from the late-18th to early-19th centuries - books like Pollyanna, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women. . . in fact, most of the books listed here. Of course I don't expect that all little girls are going to be rabid bookworms like I was, but still. . . 

Pollyanna 2002
Nancy (Kate Ashfield)

I can think of two reasons for the current dearth of readers of these books: 1.) people (including young girls) just don't read as much as they used to, and 2.) classics like those mentioned above - detailing the lives of young heroines living in a much simpler, more innocent age - are deemed increasingly irrelevant to today's generation of preteen girls.

Little girls are being forced to grow up so quickly these days. 12 is the new 18 - that is, if being 18 is supposed to entail dressing in tight-fitting, skimpy clothes, and being overly concerned about clothes, personal appearance, and boys (I would argue that it doesn't). Through so many pressures and influences - encompassing the culture, the media, and their peers - little girls are being robbed of their girlhood. 

Pollyanna 2002

Girls like myself who have been homeschooled and raised in a protected, nourishing environment, usually manage to avoid being subjected to most of this (young ladies, we have so much for which to be thankful to our parents!). Ever noticed how most homeschoolers tend to be bookworms? :-) Partly thanks to the emphasis on good literature within most homeschool circles, a lot of homeschooled children develop an appreciation for good books from an early age.

Pollyanna 2002

Whoops, I didn't realise my little soliloquy had grown to over 3 paragraphs! What all of this boils down to is: I'm sad that a generation of girls are growing up without knowing any of the books that I knew and loved as a little girl. They'll be all the poorer for not having known Anne Shirley or Laura Ingalls or Pollyanna Whittier. That's not to say it's the girls' fault - I think most of the blame lies with their parents and others responsible for their education (and when I say education, I don't just mean "school").

And this was supposed to be a short, simple movie review, haha! Well, if you have any thoughts to share on this issue, please leave a comment.

Pollyanna 2002
Kenneth Cranham as Mr. Pendleton

Getting back to the proper subject of this post: you can watch Pollyanna on Youtube (just search for "Pollyanna Part 1"), but the audio is very poor quality. I'd encourage you to get it on DVD, especially if there are any little girls in your life with whom you could share it. :-)

Pollyanna 2002

More info:

Official Masterpiece Theatre page

IMDb page

Charity's Place review

Buy from Amazon US or Amazon UK (or try eBay! that's where I got my copy ;-)

13 comments:

Autumn said...

Hmmmmm,
Spunds good but I am a HUGE Pollyanna fan and would hate to have the books or the old film spoiled for all time. Do you think it would?
Maybe I should get it somehow.
We'll see.
Blessings
Autumn.

Hannah said...

I loved the Pollyana movie--very sweet and innocent. The glad game is such a lovely idea and a very good thing to implement in our own lives. :-)

God Bless!
--Hannah

Jo March said...

I. Love. This. Movie.!!!! I was sooo pleased with it when we watched it, everyone in our family enjoyed it. Autumn, you should definitely see it if you like Pollyanna. :)

I think the actress who played Pollyanna did a very good job, none of her lines seemed "forced" (a common problem with some more modern child actors). And boy were my sisters and I tickled to see David Bamber in this film! (we had no idea!)

Miss Laurie said...

I enjoyed watching this film when it first aired and thought it was delightful!
There were a few things I couldn't remember it they matched up with the book (such as Pollyanna's accident and Fair), but it was a sweet film.

You are so right Elise, girls do grow up so soon these days! The go right from babies and are encouraged to be "women of the world" and miss that precious girlhood time! Even for bookworms there is so much trash out there that children don't read these good old-fashioned children's books. I see this kind of reading as developing minds and tastes for better things, reading Pollyanna when you're young can develop your mind so later you're ready for Jane Austen, Dickens and Shakespeare (I've found this to be true in my own life)! I find more homeschoolers to be bookworms because they are given a love and appreciation of good literature at an early age.
Even if a girl isn't a bookworm these type of literary film adaptations are much more wholesome to be watching than the trash that is on "children's/teen's programming" on TV nowadays!
Thanks for the post Elise! Sorry this is so long. :)

The Editrix said...

Autumn - It's up to you, I guess! I know the feeling, not wanting a favourite book to be spoilt by the movie.

Laurie - Even for bookworms there is so much trash out there that children don't read these good old-fashioned children's books. I see this kind of reading as developing minds and tastes for better things, reading Pollyanna when you're young can develop your mind so later you're ready for Jane Austen, Dickens and Shakespeare

Exactly! That is so true.

Even if a girl isn't a bookworm these type of literary film adaptations are much more wholesome to be watching than the trash that is on "children's/teen's programming" on TV nowadays!

Absolutely. . .

Rebekah said...

I loved this version of "Pollyanna"! We got it on Netflix. It was very close to the book in surprising areas - even to her accident. The only difference was that she wasn't coming home from school when she was hurt, like in the book. And they didn't remove the LORD from it entirely either.

I have read the book a few times and enjoyed it when I read it at eighteen. Pollyanna is such a good reminder to have a cheerful attitude no matter the circumstances around you! I didn't really care for book two "Pollyanna Grows Up" but I loved the classic "Pollyanna". Goodness! Just talking about it makes me want to read it again! :D

To the KING be all the glory!
Rebekah

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

The Editrix said...

I'll have to read it again sometime. :-)

trustintheLord said...

sooo true!!! love this blog so much! and I'll have to watch that Pollyanna :D

Charity said...

I loved this version. It always saddened me that there wasn't a truly good adaptation of the book out there, and then the BBC surprised me delightfully with this one. I loved the book as a child, and I still love it to this day. It is nice now and again to curl up with an innocent book (or in this case film) for a change.

The Editrix said...

TrustintheLord - I'll have to lend it to you! ;-)

Charity - It is nice now and again to curl up with an innocent book (or in this case film) for a change.

I agree! :-)

Miss Jen said...

Oh... what a fabulous post!!
I want to watch it!

Love~ Jen

The Editrix said...

You'd enjoy it, Jenny!

Anonymous said...

Hi just wanted to say that I like your article very much. Please keep up the good posts Thanks a ton! and Have a good day