The story of Little Women has been told for generations about the March family, husband and wife blessed with four daughters as different as can be: Meg the perfect Victorian beauty, Jo the imaginative tom boy, Beth the sickly sister with a giant heart, and Amy the youngest sister who desires wealth and society. The four sisters grow up, meet men and their lives and relationships change forever both by their actions and the changing climates around them.
The sad part is I only have one hang-up with the story of Little Women both in regards to the book and the movie. It infuriates and mystifies me that Jo rejects Laurie when he proposes marriage to her; even before I was a Bale fan this act confused me. To this day I don’t understand why Jo does this when the two characters are so perfect for each other from a narrative stand point. This is the only point where I have to stand back and realize that in the end Little Women is a novel loosely based on Louisa May Alcott’s own life – so I guess she rejected the real life Laurie too.
I really appreciate the subtle hand Gillian Armstrong uses in her treatment of Little Women. Armstrong has an eye for the rhythm of Victorian life in a way that most directors might not, and I have to imagine that being a woman gave Armstrong an extra ability to empathize with the titular women and really be able to delve into the trials and joys of their lives without seeming to demean or cheapen them.
Eventually, I will have to do what I’ve never been able to do and read the novel that this movie is based on…and track the ancient film version down where the actresses are actually wearing hoop skirts and clothing strange to the era.
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Writer: Robin Swicord
Jo March: Winona Ryder
Friedrich Bhaer: Gabriel Byrne
Meg March: Trini Alvarado
Older Amy March: Samantha Mathis
Younger Amy March: Kirsten Dunst
Beth March: Claire Danes
Laurie: Christian Bale
John Brooke: Eric Stoltz
”Marmee” March: Susan Sarandon
Amy: Do you love Laurie more than you love me?
Jo: Don't be silly! I could never love anyone more than I love my sisters.