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Little Women Movie Review

Little Women - Collector's Edition

 

5 of 5 stars Heartwarming Story of Four Sisters October 31, 2001 


Deep down inside many women, there is a person who wishes she lived in a simpler time. When people tied letters in ribbons, took cooking, sewing, knitting and quilting seriously and men brought women flowers. Yes, that still all happens today, but somehow some of us dream of the romance of the era. A time, long gone, as we rush towards the future.

No time for a tea party, dressing up in lace, wearing gloves. How about finding time to sit on a park bench and steal a kiss? Then there are those wonderful attics, filled with mementos and treasures, just waiting to be discovered. Well, at least we can find time to escape into a movie and live the daydream through the characters. I have never had a sister, but when watching this movie, I always think how wonderful it would have been to have had a sister.

To provide some background for this movie: Little Women was written in 1868 and the story takes place during the early 1860's. Many Americans were moving Westward and women like Jo March in this story, embraced the changes as they rode the wave into the new future. Because men had to go off to war (Civil War 1861-1865), women became more self-reliant and Marmee (Jo's Mother) represents a woman who faces the challenge with dignity and resolve. She is determined to make life wonderful for her family.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) was ahead of her time. Her main ambition in life was to relieve her family of financial heartache and Jo also strives for this in Little Women. Her writing talents eventually did help to support her family. When her Boston publisher suggested she should write a story for girls, she decided to try the experiment. The girls she knew best were herself and her three sisters, so she based her book on her family and created Jo March as her own fictional counterpart.

Like Louisa, Jo struggles to conceal her strong-willed nature in a time when women were much more docile. She is the real Jo march. Anna (Meg) is Louisa's older sister. Elizabeth (Beth) was ill for two years before she died in 1858. May (Amy) became a painter in Paris and actually illustrated the first edition of Little Women in 1868. Abba (Marmee) is Louisa's mother who understood her daughter and encouraged her to be all she could be.

Bronson Alcott, Louisa's father had a vision for an ideal world, but often he tended to ignore the realities of life. In this movie, he goes off to war and is injured.

In Concord, Massachusetts, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne helped to kindle Louisa's ambitious nature. She was the first woman registered to vote in Concord, Massachusetts. The March family home in the story is actually the Alcotts Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts where the family lived for 20 years.

There are two versions of this story that have been brought to the screen most wonderfully, in my own opinion. I have not seen all the movies made, but think perhaps if they were all combined into one, the perfect movie will have been created. There are quite a few details left out of this one that I really missed. Some should be in this movie to give it more depth and were included in the 1949 movie.

This version of 1994 and the 1949 movie are my absolute favorites. To know the full story, you must watch both. If you also read the book, you can fill in the tidbits that are not included.

The story begins in winter when there are to be no presents for Christmas and a family in need is blessed by the March family giving them their entire breakfast. The women in this story are like angels, they strive to be good and have such great character.

This movie is delightfully filled with kittens, fall leaves, books, lace gloves, romantic letters, snow, opera, art and tea parties. It is truly the most beautiful adaptation of the classic story. The New England countryside around Concord is incredible in the Autumn. The seasons change as the characters lives evolve and as life moves on.

Jo is the main character and has a mind of her own, we follow her story as she finds out who she really is and what she wants from life. She occasionally seems to burst from her quietness with such exuberance for life. She would have been quite happy running off to war and is a bit of a tomboy, but seems just quite modern to women today. She is so unaware of her own deep desires (except wanting to be published) until she experiences losses that bring her to a new understanding of her own need for love.

The four sisters have such fun at home acting out the stories Jo writes, that their neighbor Laurie wants to join their society. He is infatuated with Jo, but she only feels a love of friendship for him.

When Jo leaves to go to N.Y. she meets a more mature man who intrigues her. She shares her love of writing with him until one day he slightly criticizes her work and deeply hurts her when he says: "There is more to you than this, if you have the courage to write it." We think that perhaps Jo will never grow up and find love.

Will Jo ever find what she is looking for and will she be a successful writer? If you are looking for a movie that is perfect for winter viewing, this will warm your heart! If you love this movie, you must also see Gone with the Wind.

Watch this movie at night with candles. Oh, and have some oranges close by. ;>

 

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