After her semi-autobiographical directorial debut “Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig approaches the art of literary adaptation. Whether their adaptation of the often filmed novel LITTLE WOMEN (2019) convinced, we reveal in our criticism.
Will Jo (Saoirse Ronan) and Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) be the next dream couple?
The plot summary
Four young sisters in America in the middle of the 19th century try to shape their lives in a self-determined way and according to their own ideas, which means that some of them have to overcome major social obstacles: This film adaptation of a US literary classic follows the different life paths of all differences Despite deeply loving March sisters Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh) and Beth (Eliza Scanlen) at a time when opportunities for women were limited.
Little Women Movie Meaning of ending
In English-speaking countries, Louisa May Alcott’s autobiographically inspired novel “Little Women” is little known and in the local Wikipedia it is even headlessly squeezed into the “girls’ literature” section, which otherwise mainly contains shallow works such as “ The Three !!!” and “Magic Girls” are sorted. In the English-speaking world, however, “Little Women” is part of the (still male-dominated) literary canon and a popular and influential classic that has endured for generations and is celebrated as a prime example of American bildungsroman. This popularity is probably also the reason why “Little Women” has been made into films several times, including as a silent film in 1918, as a talkie with Katharine Hepburn in 1933 and with Winona Ryder and Kirsten Dunst in 1994. But although “Little Women” is a classic of US literary history, the genesis of this story about a quartet of sisters is sometimes swept under the carpet: The best-seller published in 1869 (the publisher Roberts Brothers couldn’t keep up with the printing, the demand was so great ) was a compromise between Alcott and her publisher, who found the feminist author’s original draft to be immoral, neither to marry one of her main characters nor to “morally” punish and kill her for her unwillingness to commit and have children let.
Amy (Florence Pugh) is unsure of her feelings.
Curiously (or rather tellingly?) the publisher did not recognize another “problem” with the novel: in “Little Women” Alcott creates a confused tapestry of relationships between the four March sisters, the bewitchingly pretty rich boy Laurie Laurence and any other lovebirds. And because Alcott deals with the ups, downs, arguments, reconciliations and shifts in matters of the heart in a true-to-life but structurally idiosyncratic way, she provoked centuries of heated debates between readers, the Little Women with the main focus on the romantic entanglements have devoured: Is it commendable, ripped from life and put on paper, that these relationships happen the way they do? Or should Alcott be ashamed of her twists to bring this and that person together instead of this and that? While previous “Little Women” adaptations have paid little or no attention to taking into account the heartfelt to heated “shipper talk” that the Bildungsroman has caused, Gerwig throws herself into her film adaptation with a passion for problem solving, but also with heartfelt reverence for the template, into this topic: The “Lady Bird” filmmaker rearranges “Little Women” in the adaptation she wrote, and does so with both heart and soul and an intellectual eye for narrative parallels and dramaturgical ellipses. This is immediately appealing on several levels:
There is the banal aspect that Gerwig’s restructured version of “Little Women” allows a breath of fresh air: After Alcott’s literary classic has already been filmed several times, it is exciting for those familiar with the other versions to experience a new, fresh set of the story. Then there is the romantic aspect: in her “Little Women” interpretation, Gerwig demonstrates a fabulous intuition for how to guide the audience during storytelling so that they approve of the dalliances, which should ultimately be perceived as a happy ending to the story. And then finally there is the most important aspect: By telling “Little Women” out of chronology, Gerwig gives this costume drama about life on the home front a modern dynamic – although the Civil War is fought far away and its consequences are later digested it doesn’t break with the original in the slightest. Gerwig’s “Little Women” is no longer a classic educational story that stringently traces how three stubborn and artistically gifted sisters (one writes, one paints, one plays the piano) and the fourth sister, who lives out a classic family image, in the group over the course of 1861 grow into their social role by 1868.
Meryl Streep also plays a small role in “Little Women.”
Instead, Gerwig arranges the template in such a way that it emphasizes emotional snapshots through doublings, juxtapositions and interweaving of various scenes from this story arc. That takes a bit of trying: After the cleverly written introduction with Saoirse Ronan’s well-read Jo, who tries to live out her passion as a storyteller in New York, Gerwig spends large parts of the first act setting the course. The story jumps back and forth seemingly mindlessly, and some scenes seem to go on a beat longer than is necessary to clearly convey their emotion or their message about the status of women in the 19th century. But once the story gets rolling in the narrative past and present, the brilliance of Gerwig’s plan is revealed: we are allowed to participate in a silent position of observation about who the four March sisters were, who they are and what they become, several times brings with it dry humor (for example, when Florence Pugh’s lively, impulsive Amy complains about retaliation, even though she was the most resentful of all the characters just a few minutes before in the film/several years before). Little by little, this parallel narrative also becomes charged with emotional violence, which leads to a massive goosebumps moment when an event repeats itself, but not its outcome. Gerwig films this dramatic situation in almost the same way, with repeating camera angles and panning shots – only the feeling and color temperature change drastically.
The restructuring of the original not only strengthens the situational emotionality of the material, but also moves Ronan’s figure more into the center, which Gerwig uses for metafictional comments on the position of women and the importance of narrative art for the process of emancipation. Since Ronan Jo March plays excellently, with a likeable balance between cerebral reserve and affable friendliness, this is a welcome decision. And yet Florence Pugh (“Midsommar”) manages to steal the spotlight from Ronan several times as she brings the moody but winningly cheerful Amy to life with an incomparable charisma. Emma Watson as the adapted Meg March and Eliza Scanlen as the quiet Beth March almost fall off the table, while Timothée Chalamet still successfully smiles at his friendly, clever gentleman boy in the spotlight as soon as the narrative demands it – and also his sudden turn into the dramatic the “Beautiful Boy” mime masters . Formidably equipped and bathed in soft light by cameraman Yorick Le Saux (“Only Lovers Left Alive”) , which allows the calm, atmospheric image compositions to speak for themselves, “Little Women” is, despite all the modern restructuring of the material, an old-fashioned costume drama in the best sense of the word , which scores with detailed craftsmanship. And composer Alexandre Desplat accompanies the action with delicate, varied melodies that reinforce the emotional state of what is being shown without forcing itself into focus.
Conclusion: “Little Women” is a well-acted, smart and soulful literary adaptation that carefully rearranges its original.
“Little Women” can be seen in USA cinemas from January 30th.