Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mr. Blythe

I used to hate broccoli.

Not anymore.

I also used to have an aversion toward the 1985 Anne Of Green Gables movie. I was six or seven years old when I first saw it, and, I'll be honest, it frightened me. It had a lot of scary parts. Anne falling off the roof... Anne falling down an old well... Anne getting in trouble over and over and over. I used to hate it when kids in movies got in trouble. Trouble was worse than monsters or volcanoes or sharks or even whirlpools.

But after I graduated high school, I began to take a second look at Anne. My mom checked out the audio book of Anne Of Avonlea from the library, my family listened to it on a cross-country road trip... and I found myself laughing. Back at home, I dug out our old VHS tapes of the movies (complete with breaks for the dreaded PBS pledge drives) and began to immerse myself in the two films (the third one was still a year away and... well, that's a whole 'nother topic.)

From there I...
  • Read the novels (some multiple times).
  • Began watching Road To Avonlea, a spinoff TV series that featured Marilla Cuthbert, Rachel Lynde, and many new characters.
  • Planned and took a trip to Prince Edward Island and visited all the Anne-related sites.
  • Made this.

As an adult, I looked at Anne much differently than I had as a kid. My seven-year-old self had seen Anne getting into terrible, scary situations. My twentysomething self saw Anne getting into awkward, hilarious predicaments. The plots didn't change... but my perspective did. 

I've had several friends over the years who've been Anne fans alongside me, but Jenn is probably the one with whom I've had the most Anne-related conversations. I remember going to her place a few years ago and watching Anne Of Green Gables: The Sequel... and fast-forwarding through all the Kingsport parts and only watching "the Gilbert Scenes." Anne Of Green Gables: The Gilbert Blythe Edition. This method cuts an hour and a half off the movie, but it is oh, so delightful.

Jenn and I are not alone in our love of Gilbert. He has admirers all over the world. Heck, there's even a song about his awesomeness. And although several actors have portrayed him over the years (for instance this guythis guy, and also this guy), the only one we truly cared about was this guy.

Jonathan Crombie was Gilbert Blythe. Jonathan Crombie was to Gilbert Blythe what Colin Firth was to Mr. Darcy. Sure, other people have played the character(s), but they were mostly forgettable. Jonathan Crombie was unforgettable. He made Jenn and me smile and *squee* and, on occasion, send each other pictures of him wearing adorable hats.

On April 18, 2015, Anne fans learned the sad news that Jonathan Crombie had died three days prior.

Our hearts were collectively broken.

No, I didn't know Jonathan Crombie. I'd never met him. I know it may seem strange, my sadness. But Jonathan's performance in the Anne movies has amused and entertained me for so many years. I've come to adore him. And now he is gone... his memory forever preserved in two wonderful films and a third film that's... well, nevermind. It exists. I usually avoid it. Moving on.

As Anne and Gilbert's teacher Mr. Phillips once said, "Let us not have tears. Partings are a natural part of life."

And perhaps they are.

But I just know the next time I watch Anne Of Green Gables (and, knowing me, that'll probably be soon)... it's going to be tough.

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