As soon as I saw the trailer for Greta Gerwig’s Little Women I instinctively felt that this was the Little Women adaptation I’d been looking for, and I knew I had to go see it. It was beautiful, the casting was amazing, and the focus that they put on the story was spot on for me. After seeing it last night, here are my thoughts:
One of the biggest complaints I heard about this particular adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s famous novel was the way that it was formatted. The story was not told in a linear fashion, but rather flew all over the place with flashbacks to the past scattered through the original storyline. The movie started with Jo walking into an editorial office in New York with a manuscript, and it told the story of her going home to Beth who was seriously ill, all the while interspersed with flashbacks to her childhood. I can definitely see how this could have been confusing for someone who wasn’t as familiar with the story of Little Women as I was (I’ve read the book at least 10 times in my life). I did notice how the flashback scenes were shot with a distinctly different lighting than the present scenes, a soft golden light pervading through each scene, while the present scenes were shot with a much colder light, highlighting the confusion, loneliness, and heartache that the characters are feeling as they struggle with the loss of a sister and the changing of all that was familiar in their lives.
I absolutely loved this choice. It was a fresh perspective, a beautiful new way of looking at an old story, and that was exactly what I went to the theater hoping to see. While people were complaining about being confused, I think that Greta Gerwig understood that this is one of several adaptations of the same story, and the purpose of this movie wasn’t to tell us the story of Little Women for the first time, but rather to remind us why this story is important to keep revisiting, and to highlight the parts she felt were important to highlight.
Of course the acting was astounding, and the sets were breathtaking in their perfection. Watching interviews with members of the cast such as Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet, along with their director is just absolutely the most inspiring thing. Ugh, I just want to be a director….and an actor…. and a writer. Is that too much to ask of life?? But something else I really liked about this adaptation was that the focus was on all four of the sisters, reminding us that each one of them had a different purpose, and that each story was equally important to tell. Rather than just focusing on the rambunctious, fascinating Jo, Gerwig really honed in on the stories of Meg and Amy especially, the struggles that they faced as a young housewife and mother, and a society woman trying to make a place for herself in a world that was against her respectively. I loved the focus and time that was placed on Amy and Laurie’s connection, and the forming of their romance. I feel like most retellings of this don’t do their story enough justice, but I love their story so much, and I absolutely adored how they portrayed it in the film.
Little Women is a true feminist story, from a time when feminism was actually about promoting the equality of women, and not about trying to become more powerful than men. That was really the impression I got from the film, that it was doing the job of telling the stories of the real women from this time, and the real struggles they had to face, but also communicating to women that they don’t have to fit into a specific role in order to be a strong woman. Already one of the most beloved lines from the film is when Meg tells Jo, “Just because my dreams are different from yours, doesn’t mean they’re less important.” Here she is talking about her dream of marrying the man she loves and having a family, and I love the fact that even in this modern society where women are so often told that being a mother and wife is not enough, the movie is acknowledging that for Meg, it was enough, and it was what she wanted, and it was a noble and worthy pursuit. The film also lauds Jo for being a creative, and being independent and being a career woman, which is great too! Both ends of the spectrum are important, and needed, and wonderful and both should be treated as such, whether you want to do both or one or the other.
Honestly, I could talk about this for so long, but those were the main points I wanted to hit. Watching Greta Gerwig’s Little Women felt like coming home, and I was so sad when the movie ended. It was so beautiful, and nostalgic and hopeful and brilliant and I didn’t want it to be over. I’ve been feeling so inspired lately by the books I’ve been reading and the films I’ve been watching. Really, the biggest hope in my heart right now is to be able to tell beautiful and important stories, whether it’s through theater or film or writing. I feel that this is what my soul was made for, and for now I’m learning all I can to be able to tell the stories that are important to me one day.
P.S This is probably my last post of 2019, so Happy New Year to you all! Thank you so much to everyone who read this blog in 2019, and everyone who has subscribed. It means so much to me. Here’s to a beautiful new year in 2020!