Greta Gerwig’s modern adaptation of Little Women brings life to Alcott’s beloved novel

In her 2019 adaptation of of Luisa May Alcotts classic novel, director Greta Gerwig weaves a touching and refreshingly modern perspective of Little Women.

In her 2019 adaptation of of Luisa May Alcott’s classic novel, director Greta Gerwig weaves a touching and refreshingly modern perspective of Little Women.

Little Women is a 2019 film adaption of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel of the same title. Chock-full of atmosphere and emotion, this adaptation maintains the same charm as the Alcott’s book. The film received a 95% critic’s score on Rotten Tomatoes and 92% from the audience. Although the story is small in comparison to the world at large, the richness and complexity of the characters give weight to the plot. Greta Gerwig’s superb directing takes this story from good to great. The audience remained captivated throughout, believing the movie “a lively and faithful adaptation” of the original story.

The film, as well as the novel, tell the story of the domestic trials and tribulations of the four March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy – and their struggles to get by during the Civil War as their father fights for the Union and their mother attempts to support them. The acting in the movie was praised for the life that the actors brought to the roles. Some may view the performances in the opening scenes as robotic, but they improved dramatically as more emotionally-rich scenes progressed. Standout performances include Saoirse Ronan as Jo, the independent protagonist who tries to find her place in a world that condemns unmarried women. Emma Watson plays Meg, the eldest of the March sisters, and Meryl Streep plays the wealthy, somewhat cantankerous aunt of the family.

This adaptation reflects a beautiful understanding of atmosphere. Gerwig weaves a warm color palette throughout the film to symbolize the girls’ childhood, and, in the scenes where their innocence is lost, the color scheme grows cold and dark. Many emotional scenes struck chords with the audience, diving them deeper into the plot. In comparison to the novel and 1994 adaptation, the cinematography, lighting, and direction employ much more of an artistic style that is consistent throughout the film. In a few scenes, wordless but powerful footage of the characters playing, fighting, or simply enjoying time together evoked the intricate emotions, moments, and relationships within the family.

An interesting choice on the part of the filmmakers that disappointed many audience members was to have the plot progress in a non-chronological manner. The movie begins seven years after the main plot, interlacing countless flashbacks and flashforwards between the girls’ childhood and adulthood, which some viewed as confusing and difficult to follow. Another common complaint was that the movie was too long, with a runtime of over 2 hours. Although the pacing was admirable, the excessive length of the film could weary some audience members.

Even with its strange chronology, the story is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming. Emotional scenes enthralled audiences and brought life to the characters on the screen. The viewers truly invested themselves in the identities and journeys of the March family. Overall, the non-linear plot progression seamlessly intertwines scenes that were similar but very different in tone to create a profound emotional effect.

Greta Gerwig, director of Lady Bird, displayed a superior understanding of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved story and characters. The movie beautifully portrayed each and every scene it chose to adapt to the big screen. The gorgeously crafted atmosphere set an underlying tone movie that touched audiences. All involved in the creation of the film clearly poured their heart and soul into every aspect of it.