Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Ending the Road of Rereading with a cinematic look at Little Women

To cap off this final leg of my Road of Rereading journey, I watched two of the more current adaptations of Little Women and we begin with the 1994 big screen version that starred Winona Ryder as Jo March.

 She wasn't the only big name in the cast as Susan Sarandon played "Marmee" March, with Claire Danes as the darling yet doomed Beth, Kristen Dunst as Amy(Samantha Mathis played the older version of the character) and Christian Bale was Theodore "Laurie" Laurence. Not a bad line-up, especially with the screenwriter and the director both being women(Robin Swicord and Gillian Armstrong), for a female centric project like this.

Visually, the movie is gorgeous eye candy even in scenes with natural lighting. From snowy evenings to sunlit days, the film is heartwarming enticement and that the actors involved appear to have a bit of a bond with each other helps to bring the family spirit of the story come alive on screen:

Being a two hour film, certain character development details are swept under the rug(it's hard to see how the elder Mr. Laurence becomes fond of sickly Beth all of a sudden if you haven't read the book) but the key elements that devoted readers look for in a Little Women adaptation are here, such as Jo selling her hair and Meg having her Vanity Fair temptation.

One of the creative choices made with this screenplay has the March sisters(and their mother at times)express sociopolitical opinions that the real life Alcott family had in their day, which works sometimes but not at others.

 Speaking of Vanity Fair, Meg's hesitation to get as glammed up as her more financially stable friends is due to personal pride issues, not really outrage over the abusive treatment of silk workers as that sequence would have you believe. Trini Alvado is fine as Meg but this speech just feels a little out of place with the whole intended tone of the original story:

Despite those flaws, this take on Little Women is pleasant viewing that is best appreciated by those already familiar with the book. It's not a bad introduction for newcomers but the glossy atmosphere of the film might make it seem more of a romance than it actually is.

One of the best points in this movie's favor is Christian Bale as Laurie, he and Ryder truly seem to have chemistry between them that makes Jo's necessary rejection of him all the more painful to watch, although Jo having Gabriel Bryne as Professor Bhaer later on is not a bad consolation prize there:

The best way to retell a story like Little Women is in series form and the Pemberley Digital adaptation The March Family Letters gives this old fashioned novel a proper modern day setting with smartly written twists. The girls start up a vlog in order to stay in touch with Marmee, who is part of the Canadian military, and it's a hoot right from the beginning.

Having Jo(Alex Kerr) be a struggling student filmmaker is a great way to update the character and bring those theatricals of hers fit right in with the storyline. Seeing "The Witch's Curse" in separate parts is a fun treat that adds a break from any plot tension nicely:

Other present day touches include Beth being a guitar player who writes her own songs, Amy trashing Jo's computer hard drive instead of burning her manuscript and Meg(Jessica Allen) falling in love with Joan Brooke(Alejandra Simmons),Laurie's tutor.

Yes, Meg is gay in this version(and btw, Beth identifies as ace aka asexual) and if you have a problem with that, then you are not a true romantic at heart. This love story is played out so beautifully and sweet, not to mention that it makes perfect sense that a 21st century version of the March sisters would be more diverse in more than one department. Seeing Meg and Joan finally express their true feelings and have that first kiss is such a joy to behold and yes, I do think Alcott herself would approve:

My only complaint is that the series ended way too soon and in a very sad place,with Beth in the hospital. Yes, I know how that part of the story goes but still....

Since TMFL is a Canadian production that Pemberley Digital distributes, I'm not sure if there will be a season two but I'm not alone in sincerely hoping for that to be so. There are so many other plot lines to have fulfilled such as Laurie's crush on Jo(that should be an epic scene!) and rest of Meg and Joan's relationship. Perhaps we will see more of this delightful show next year but for now, I will show you the glory that is Camp Laurence:

Well, this Road of Rereading is complete and I hope that everyone found some of my literary revisiting entertaining at the very least. I am planning a new blog project for 2016, sort of a book battle with such categories as Blood Sucking Dramas(Twilight vs The Vampire Diaries), Literary Insiders(James Michener's The Novel vs. Olivia Goldsmith's The Bestseller) and Goth Girls(Louisa May Alcott vs Victoria Holt).

 Should be fun and if you have any suggestions for a book vs book bout, please let me know! In the meantime, thank you all for checking out my Road of Rereading series and let's look forward to more good times with fiction and not just in a galaxy far,far away:

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