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Greta Gerwig's Nostaligiac Masterpiece Lives On

Little Women will always have a special place in my heart

By Zoe McGarrickPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
this adaptation showcases Meg, Amy and Beth in a similar light

Everyone, and everyone’s mum, has heard of Louisa May Allcott’s masterpiece Little Women. Especially as this, I suppose, review, is about three years late, we've all probably sat down to watch it by this point.

But this movie still stands out in its genre, however hard to describe really. To name it a period drama feels reductive, but what else could it be? It's not strictly, a romance, it is a coming-of-age... But it also ties the real author into the story and has a choice of endings for the romantic climax of Jo March, so to place it too strictly into one category doesn't sit right with me. Especially as this film, in almost the same way as it's 1999 predecessor of the same name, staring the iconic Winona Ryder, has this inspiring feeling that life goes on in a good way. Gerwig's adaptation particularly reflects this in the style of mixing their childhood and adulthood scenes, not skipping past the scenes of the girls bonding, which many directors might have done - it doesn't add to the plot. No, but it adds to the characters and the feelings inspired in the audience.

I didn't grow up with sisters, or siblings I was particularly close with, so reading about the March sisters at a young age brought a sense of comfort I often found I was missing. The film makes you want to read all the books you've been shelving over the past two years, or write an epic novel about nothing in particular. It had a quite contentment too, that felt very Austen in it's way of rural or cottage living in it's quite solitude can be comforting, while the city can be too cold and busy. Very much a film for the introverted bookworm that the movie was intended for.

This version was Greta Gerwig’s nostalgic work of art.

The story of the four March sisters is retold by someone who clearly fell in love with the book. The movie takes care to centre itself around Beth’s death, allowing for a meaningful look back on the March’s lives together. The film serves as a farewell to childhood, which seems to be a painfully mainstream theme in movies these days (I say this as a twenty-three year old who is also painfully aware my childhood is dead). When we come to the most painful parts of the film, we find ourselves so fully attached to all sisters that it’s as if we too are losing Beth.

It is during the film you realise Alcott’s novel doesn’t have any real action or a true plotline to follow; we loved the story because of the characters. Each sister is drawn out beautifully by a wonderful cast, all who bring strength and passion for each sister. In the past, famously Jo was the only one of the sister’s girls would have idolised and viewed as a role model, but this adaptation showcases Meg, Amy and Beth in a similar light; all are different, but no less strong women. As Meg says to Jo, “just because my dreams are different to yours, doesn’t mean they’re unimportant.”

Gerwig gives a nod to Alcott’s real life behind Little Women, as the author modelled Jo after herself and was forced to write a romance for the lead by her publishers, as the heroine must be married by the end. But Alcott remained unmarried and her closeted life as a lesbian has been rumoured since. But that's an article for another day.

Since the pandemic, I think we've reflected on how much we've needed to be social beings, introverted bookworms or not, we like to see other people's lives. And Little Women gives us that more-than-a-glimpse we crave into four sisters' lives.


About the Creator

Zoe McGarrick

I am new writer, soon to be author, interested in writing articles all things literature, book reviews, book culture and my journey! Stick around to stay updated; follow me on Insta and TikTok @authorzoemcgarrick

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