“Little Women” made big changes in 2019


Kaitlyn Schafer, Reviews, Features. and Editorials editor

Academy Award-nominated Greta Gerwig, director of the 2018 film “Lady Bird,” has done it again with her adaption to Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel “Little Women.” Released on Christmas Day 2019, “Little Women” was able to pull through with its riveting script, incredible casting choices, and just enough differences from the 1994 version to keep audiences’ attention. Gerwig, along with fellow screenwriter Sarah Polley were able to take these iconic, beloved characters and make viewers love them even more, as well as shine some in a new light. The picture stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, and Merryl Streep, along with “Call Me By Your Name” actor Timothée Chalamet, with Eliza Scanlen as Beth, and Florence Pugh as Amy.

Economic Proposition: Timothee Chalamet and Florence Pugh as Laurie and Amy during Amy’s speech about marriage. Pugh has been nominated for her first Oscar for her performance, and it may be largely because of this scene. “It was so good! I loved the 1994 one but I just love how they portrayed Amy as more mature and centered kind of in this one,” stated senior Katherine Mavis.

“Little Women,” tells the story of four sisters in the years after the Civil War. Jo March, played by Ronan, lives in New York and makes her living as a writer, while her sister Amy, Pugh, studies painting in Paris. Amy has a chance encounter with Laurie, Chalamet, a childhood crush who proposed to Jo but was ultimately rejected. Their oldest sibling, Meg, Watson, is married to a schoolteacher, while shy sister Beth, Scanlen, develops a devastating illness that brings the family back together. 

The Little Women: Scanlen, Ronan, Watson and Pugh as the March sisters. Overall, this film was better than its 1994 production. “I mainly went to go see this because Timothee Chalamet is in it but I ended up loving it for a totally different reason when I walked out of the theater. Everything about it was just so great,” stated Shelby Morrow.

The film chronologically switches back and forth between past and present, a notable difference from the 1994 adaption. “Little Women” opens with Jo March arriving at her new job as a teacher at a small school, with Amy in Paris with her Aunt March, with Meg happily married to a poor man and finally, with Beth at home still weak from sickness. The movie seems to transition into the past when three of the sisters receive word that Beth has gotten sick again and must return home. This results in them thinking of their childhood memories in the house they were raised in and the fun that they had. This new way of telling this story was refreshing and made the film that much more interesting to watch, especially when the past catches up with the present.

Another difference from the movie’s 1994 version is the character of Amy March, who is played fantastically by Florence Pugh. Amy, the youngest of the “Little Women,” has historically been the least liked of the four. Alcott’s 1868 novel positions her as a foil to her older sister Jo which emphasizes Amy’s youthful selfishness and materialism. This latest adaption, however, suggests that Amy is misunderstood. Amy’s Aunt March takes her to Paris where she courts a boring man and encounters her childhood friend Laurie who questions why Amy is settling for a man she might not love. In a powerful scene that expresses the hardships for women in the nineteenth century, Amy informs Laurie that she is not ashamed of her desire to marry rich. As a woman, Amy is not able to make enough money to earn a living, and whatever she earns would belong to her husband. Even their children would be his property.

“So don’t sit there and tell me that marriage isn’t an economic proposition, because it is,” she says.

Aside from these two significant differences between the 1994 and 2019 movies, there were not many others, except for the actors playing the characters and how they portray them. This film is still in theaters and has been nominated for a total of six Academy Awards. It gets a 5/5 star rating for its brilliant acting, chronological twist and change on the character Amy March.