This film was my reintroduction to the wonderful world of L.M. Montgomery. I enjoyed reading Anne of Green Gables as a child, but I have no memory of watching any of the movies based on the books. Later on, I’ll watch the Disney Channel’s take on some of Anne’s stories. But this movie wasn’t about her. It was about Jane, from Montgomery’s Jane of Lantern Hill.
Jane Stuart (Mairon Bennett) lives in Toronto with her mother and grandmother. Everyone gossips about Jane because her parents are separated, and Jane thinks her father is dead. He is alive and well, but she doesn’t discover this important bit of information until she is 12 years old. Jane’s father, Andrew (Sam Waterston), lives on Prince Edward Island, specifically on Lantern Hill. He has been living alone and working as a journalist, completely removed from his daughter’s life, but he suddenly sends for Jane. She gets the news shortly after her mother, who is not well, has come home. Jane leaves her mom, grandma, and bratty cousin behind to visit with her father. She also bids her only friend, a servant named Jody (Sarah Polley, pictured below), farewell.
Side note: I’m a big fan of the Canadian Ramona series starring Sarah Polley, so I’m excited to see her in various Disney Channel productions throughout my project. Oh, and you’ll probably like this if you’re a Law & Order fan, because of Sam Waterston.
Jane has a long journey to meet her father on Prince Edward Island, including traveling around the PEI with her Aunt Irene. The big question in this film, and the most-talked about issue, is why Jane’s parents are separated. She discovers the answer gradually, with the help of a mystical lady named Hepzibah (Colleen Dewhurst). The truth is, it’s all Aunt Irene’s fault! Irene wanted Andrew to marry into the Morrow family, so she meddled in her brother’s business. Andrew told Evelyn Morrow to leave him alone (because he loves Jane’s mother), and Evelyn told Jane’s mother, Robin, that Andrew was really in love with Evelyn. Tragically, Evelyn accidentally drove herself off a cliff during a blizzard.
I’ll admit that all that was a little confusing to follow, but the sad part is, Robin has believed all this time that her husband was in love with Evelyn. Jane is the one who has to suffer for this complicated story. I kept wondering how so many people could be so heartless and mean to a young girl. These 1930s Canadians can’t believe a person’s parents would separate or get divorced.
Since Robin and Andrew never actually divorced, it makes their situation a little easier in the end. Jane convinces her dad to to tell her mom how he really feels. Instead of Jane returning to Toronto for Christmas, she and her dad call up her mother, and Andrew says “I love you” to Robin. Unfortunately, the evil grandmother cuts him off on the phone, but Robin still travels to the PEI, spends Christmas with her husband and daughter, and moves back permanently. I love seeing this family reunite, and I enjoyed the film overall.
Lantern Hill was a co-production between the CBC, the Disney Channel, and Sullivan Entertainment. I rented it on the hub for all Sullivan Entertainment movies: GazeboTV. It looks like I’ll be spending more time under the Gazebo in May for Anne of Avonlea.
Note: This film was my last Disney Channel movie of January! I’m excited for a great list of movies in February. Thank you for reading and sharing this project.