When Anne returns to Avonlea for the first time since Marilla Cuthbert’s death, she learns that her fiancee Gilbert Blythe has accepted a staff position at the prestigious New York hospital where he has been studying. Gilbert persuades Anne to join him, telling her he has arranged a meeting for her at a large publishing house.
I couldn’t be happy living anywhere else but here. This is where I want to be. So many memories locked up here. I can’t leave it. I wish I could have done something. This place is in both our souls, Gil. I wish we could grow old together here.
– Anne Shirley
Meanwhile, Anne’s closest friend, Diana, has seen her own husband Fred off to war – and the heart-wrenching news soon arrives that he is missing and presumed dead.
Anne soon receives the same devastating news that Gilbert is missing in action. Realizing that she cannot give up on him, she sets out across the Atlantic to search for her husband, braving the battlefields of World War I to find the love of her life.
In a bizarre twist of fate, Anne is reunited with Jack Garrison who is now working in France as a war correspondent. Jack is traveling with a young French woman, Colette, and their baby son, Dominic. When Jack disappears and Colette is killed during an attack on the field hospital, Anne is left to care for Dominic. At the same field hospital, Anne is stunned to find Fred, suffering terribly from his wounds, but alive. She vows to get both Fred and Dominic home safely to Canada.
Anne’s indomitable spirit finally triumphs as she is reunited with Gil.
“You know, every day I would pick a different memory of you and play it over and over and over again in my mind, until every hair, every freckle, every part of you was exactly as I remembered.” – Gilbert Blythe
- The Continuing Story, Kevin Sullivan’s third installment in the Anne series, finds Anne and Gilbert embarking on their new life together at the brink of World War One. The film’s departure from the L.M. Montgomery novels that inspired the first two Anne movies is a result of the chronology that Sullivan created to interpret Anne’s life on the screen. Sullivan set the first Anne film just after the turn of the century (a decade later than Montgomery originally set her novel) because the early Edwardian era offered more interesting production design possibilities than the Victorian era. Between making The Sequel, which was set in 1905-1907, and The Continuing Story, Sullivan also created 91 episodes of the television series Road to Avonlea. This series, which took viewers through the years 1907 to 1914, culminated in An Avonlea Christmas – set at the outbreak of World War One.
- When creating The Continuing Story, Sullivan decided to keep going in the chronological order he created for Anne. He had her story take place against the more mature background of the First World War. In Montgomery’s later novels, Anne and Gilbert are middle-aged parents and watch as their children go off to war. By depicting the struggles that Anne and Gilbert directly face in war-torn Europe, Sullivan wanted to make audiences aware of the reasons why they were so attached to the innocent world of Anne’s childhood in the first film. Anne’s story of survival is only more poignant when viewed against the sweeping changes in history that unfolded in this era.
- Megan and Schuyler’s close personal relationship off-screen was also reflected on-screen in several highly emotional moments.
- The shots on the road to Green Gables were shot at the same location at which Road to Avonlea was filmed.
- The scene when Anne gets out of the car to run to Green Gables was shot in the autumn and the art crew had to spray-paint the leaves with an organic spray to make them appear green.
- Megan does not run through the fields on the way to Green Gables; she had a near perfect physical double named Dawn!
- The Green Gables house was decimated one morning for filming, then was cleaned up and painted to shoot later scenes of the movie.
- Anne’s reaction to seeing Green Gables in shambles is quite genuine, for Megan herself had not seen the house since she worked on the last film twelve years earlier. Indeed, she had to be reminded that the house would look fine again by the end of the day.
- The scene at the beach, when we first see Gilbert, was shot on Lake Ontario. Since the sand there is not red, the art crew had to spray the cliffs with organic red spray paint and put crushed brick down on the ground. Megan Follows was offered a stunt double for her fall in the sand, but she said, “Oh, no, I can do a pratfall quite well on my own, thank you.” And, although they filmed a couple of takes, they stuck with the first one.
- Jonathan Crombie would often bring treats (candy, popcorn, etc.) for his fellow workers.
- The scene before Anne enters Winfield Publishing house was shot in Montreal. The hospital scenes were shot at the Whitby Sanatorium. The surgery room was an old observation room in which surgeries actually once took place. You can see the outside of the Whitby Sanatorium when Gilbert goes to help Dr. Stuart at the convalescence home. Incidentally, the Sanatorium was originally built for veterans coming home from World War I.
- The scene when Jack threatens to jump from the balcony was shot in Toronto just before Christmas, so Cameron Daddo sure must have been cold in his bare feet. (Note Megan’s breath.)
- Stills of the Robert Redford version of The Great Gatsby inspired the garden scene at Kit Garrison’s house.
- The scene on the street when Anne blows up at Jack was shot in two locations: the close-ups were filmed in Toronto and the wide shots were taken in Montreal – both about 6 weeks apart!
- Jonathan Crombie struggled a bit with the scene where Fred tells him he’s going off to join the war effort. Jonathan was not sure how to play the scene and the director told him to “just be his friend.”
- For the scene when Anne falls on the stairs in her wedding gown, the director offered her a pillow to land on, but she declined.
- Originally, Director Stefan Scaini planned (and shot) a wedding night scene, which you can see on the DVD extras.
- The winter scenes were shot in the summer. That means the snow is fake and the actors are hot. The scene in the trench was shot in late November, so it was cold. Thus, we see Anne trembling quite a bit. You’ll notice, however, that Jack and Colette aren’t shaking as much. That’s because there was a heater behind them to keep the baby warm. Since the movie was shot over three months, about four sets of twin babies were used to play Dominic.
- The part of the trench scene when Anne goes up to get the horse is based on a true story of people who tried to get a horse they saw and wound up in a mine field.
- The extra who played the man whose legs had been amputated (the scene is right before Anne boards the ship for London), is an actual Vietnam War veteran.
- For the street scene before Mr. Keegan pays Anne a visit, leaves and kitty litter were thrown on the ground to cover the yellow lines in the street, and boxes were piled on the sidewalk to hide the parking meters.
- Although Greg Spottiswood loves kids, every time a child was put in his arms, the baby started crying.
- The scene where Elsie talks about “the boys” was taken from a diary of a woman who was a travelling entertainer during the war. Much of the escape scene (with Anne and Elsie) was ad-libbed.
- The scene toward the end of the movie when Anne, Gilbert, Jack and his associate get ready to board the train home was the first scene shot.