by CELIA BROCKER
In this time where remakes are extremely popular among film companies, the more skeptical audience member may wonder why Greta Gerwig – director of the 2017 coming-of-age film Lady Bird – would choose to reimagine Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women when there are several other adaptations of Alcott’s novel.
Well for one, why is it normal to sit through several reiterations of the same superheroes movies, but not a piece of classic American literature? There have been 3 live-action versions of Spider-Man in the past decade and we’re approaching our 4th film-version of Batman, but there’s too many adaptations of Little Women? The last film version of Little Women was released in 1994. The difference is that society is accustomed to catering the creativity of men instead of women.
The film’s success is largely due to the creative genius of Greta Gerwig. Little Women is also a coming of age story, and Gerwig surrounds childhood with a loving embrace, basking all the scenes from the characters’ childhood in a warm golden light while the scenes that take place in adulthood are encased with a colder grey style that appears when childhood innocence has faded from the characters eyes.
Gerwig also uses sound to show the utopia that is created within a family. Everyone in the March family is always talking over one another, multiple conversations happening at the same time which establishes the close relationships between the characters.
Another part of the film’s success is due to the actors, all of whom fit their roles perfectly – Saorise Ronan shines as Jo, the feisty heroine who is determined to do things in her own way. Florence Pugh brings childish turned refined Amy to life in the way other adaptations have neglected to do, portraying her ambition as well as her elegance and finally does justice to perhaps the most misunderstood character of her time. Emma Watson plays the most traditional March sister and shows that there is as much strength to motherhood as pursuing a career. Eliza Scanlen steals every scene as shy musician Beth, and the genuine sweetness she brings makes the tragedy of Beth as heartbreaking as ever. Laura Dern is the film’s rock, which is very fitting for the character Marmee. Timothee Chalamet portrays boy next door Laurie with a playful eagerness that comes straight from the novel’s pages. And who could forget Meryl Streep, who plays Aunt March as spectacularly as she’s played anything.
It’s clear the film is not something to be tolerated – rather, it is an exceptional piece of art despite it not being the first adaption. We need stories like Little Women, if only so we can escape the harsh, violent world filmmakers love to adapt and lose ourselves in a film that celebrates the bonds of friendship and family, and is a joyful experience instead of disheartening one. No one says it better than Alcott herself, highlighted as the opening shot of Little Women – “I’ve had lots of troubles, so I write jolly tales.”