Though some may argue that the older classic versions of Little Women with Katherine Hepburn and June Allison may be better because it sticks to the book, this is the only version that captures the spirit of the book.Though the filmmakers took license to cut away certain specifics, the end result is an absolutely gorgeous film that stands on it's own completely. One would be able to watch this film without ever having read or known the book and seen it as it's own film.The film thrives on small scenes and nuances, moments of person to person contact, production design and <more>
cinematography, the all important score which adds a great deal to the film . This delicate and complicated symbiosis between all aspects tactfully and poignantly creates the story, something missing from many movies these days which creates a tangible and effervescent emotional layer. Then the acting of one of the best ensembles to hit the screen in a long time. Keep an eye out for Susan Sarandon and Claire Daines in roles that ought to have been nominated along with Ryder. These actors create people that endear themselves to us, and make the film even more than it could have been.It's a small scale masterpiece that will leave you in tears. The film is honest and true in it's portrayal of human emotion. It went from being an adaptation of the book to it's own story and portrayal of people and their lives. It's beautiful aesthetically and dramatically, and a real gem of a film.
Heartwarming and true to the book (by LeadingLadybug)
"Little Women" is a gem of a movie, encompassing comedy, drama, and romance into one well-made film that is true to Louisa May Alcott's literary classic. It follows the lives of the four March sisters, from the turbulence of youth, the turmoil and romance of adolescence, the joy of love, and the pain of loss. The quality of this movie depends entirely upon the chemistry between the actors, and it accomplished this with success. The film is a vignette of scenes throughout the sisters' lives, showing their relationships with one another and with the people around them.Winona <more>
Ryder is the quintessential Jo, the tomboyish, spirited sister who dreams of becoming an accomplished writer. She brings a refreshingly sweet, human touch to the character, who is as impulsive and headstrong as she is ambitious and loving. Ryder carried the film beautifully, and much of its success is due to her.Trini Alvarado made a very pretty and convincing Meg, the dependable older sister, although she is not so set on marrying for money as she is in the book. Claire Danes as sweet, selfless Beth, really shone in one heartbreaking scene that is impossible not to cry through. For her performance as the spoiled youngest sister, Amy, the very young Kirsten Dunst showed remarkable potential, and brought humor to the character.Christian Bale as Laurie was everything the "boy next door" should be: handsome, kind, and charming. His chemistry with Winona Ryder was considerable, and made their friendship very believable. Susan Sarandon played a wonderful Marmee, supportive and loving towards her girls.Another thing I would recommend is the soundtrack to this movie, composed by Thomas Newman, which has some gorgeous music on it.10/10
Mrs. March Susan Sarandon sits down on the floor during Christmas to read a letter and to light candles with her four children. Then they sit around the piano and play Christmas' songs. Outside is snowing as a beautiful music plays Thomas Newman . And there's a lot of snow in "Little Women", but it is not a film about Christmas or snowy weathers; it is about five women and how each of them face that exhilarating journey called life.The letter mentioned above comes from the girls' father, who is in War. At that time, daughters weren't used to say "dad"; <more>
"father", they called him. They gathered in a big room and shared their illusions: "It's not the same without the presents", Meg Trini Alvarado explained. "I'm desperate for drawing pencils", the little Amy Kirsten Dust said. "I wish I didn't have to work for great aunt March", Jo Winona Ryder complained.Beth Claire Danes , talented, quiet and always uninspiring, is asked: "What is your wish for Christmas?". "I would like the War to end so father could come home", she replies; and all of the daughters want that too. "They do have a nice piano", Beth adds, looking over the window where Laurie Christian Bale is playing. Laurie "the captive" according to the girls will be a dear friend of the family and the girls.They will all play together in a secret society that writes articles and carries on plays; they will all listen to Jo's stories waiting for the newest chapter, they will all have a constant smile on their faces, because they are nice persons. The girls, for example, know that they're not classy, but it doesn't bother them. However, they need to be presented in society, and find a man that wants them.A friend of Mrs. March comes one day and they're talking about the girls: "Meg needs to find a good man, she could; she has to attend to the events". Instantly, Jo runs down the stairs enthusiastically and tells something to her mom. Her friend interrupts: "And this one is getting wasted with so much reading". In fact, Jo is very intelligent and wise, destined for big things; and knows it and is proud of it.One day she and Meg go to an event and Jo tries to hide from classy boys and finds Laurie. They laugh, they dance, and years later when Laurie goes to college, Jo tells him: "I wish you didn't have to go". They look at each other and you could swear they are in love, but they haven't even kissed. Again, years later, he asks her to marry him, and she rejects him generating misunderstanding in the family. Life doesn't always go as it is supposed to.So Jo seeks for independence, going to New York, where she meets Friedrich Gabriel Byrne , an old, humble German teacher. They both share the same interests, and he wishes to protect her. He advises her grandly about her story writing: "Write from life; from the deepness of your soul". When they first kiss, you can tell that Jo wants it, and you instantly feel bad for Laurie, because you think he is Jo's fate; but many of the girls' fate is betrayed and things don't always turn out right at the end of the road.Tragedies and moments of great happiness follow in the life of the Marches; uncertainties and twists. Mrs. March tries to be the core she always was and keep the family together, and it is Susan Sarandon's task fulfilled in this great portrayal of hers. With very little words spoken and a bunch of understanding looks, we know her character is a woman we should admire and look up to.Personally, I would also admire all of the girls, that fought for the life they wanted; restlessly. Trini Alvarado's Meg is determinedly confident in her decisions and not a quitter at all. Now look at 12-year-old Kirsten Dunst's Amy and 15-year-old Claire Danes' Beth, two performances that clearly show the gifted actresses they are now and what they will be. Same to be said of Christian Bale's Laurie.But it is, without question, Jo's life that was a little more detailed in Luisa May Alcott's novel. However, screenwriter Robin Swicord adapted the story so it could look general and Gillian Armstrong directed it with no focus on any specified character in this wonderful, marvelous movie.Nevertheless, it was Winona Ryder's name the only one before the film's title in the credits, and it was her performance the one that shocked everyone the most. The beautiful 23-year-old she's still beautiful now takes the responsibility of an adult and delivers an Oscar-caliber portrayal that will stay in my head for the rest of my life. Brilliant acting for an actress that still deserves an award she never got.The Marches' life is not the happiest of all. They make mistakes, they fall short, they suffer; but don't we all?
Something that should be treasured (by IridescentTranquility)
There are many, many reasons why I love this version of Little Women. The main one - or at least the most immediate - is the way the film looks. I love the soft lighting, the hair and costumes I was astounded this year when I bought the DVD to hear on the commentary that Winona Ryder's hair was not her own but a wig! I never would have guessed it at all. The male characters as much as the females, I do love the period costumes, and I'm impressed by the efforts the wardrobe department made to get everything so accurate. The girls were in impoverished circumstances, so the clothes <more>
they wear aren't new and look just as though they've been handed down from one sister to another. There are a few subtle touches in this film that I sometimes find a bit jarring, such as when Marmee is talking with John Brooke in front of Meg and mentions her disagreement with the idea of women wearing restrictive corsets, but that is really the only bit that I don't feel is quite right, and it is there to demonstrate Marmee's liberal attitude. I love the way the characters interact, although there perhaps isn't enough demonstration of why Laurie and old Mr. Laurence disagree. Jo and Amy act just like real sisters - they fight and provoke each other into arguments and disputes, and generally have a chance to make little digs at the other. Meg is the pretty - but yet also virtuous - one, and clearly the most socially at ease with the upper classes of the time, for instance reminding Jo "Don't shake hands with people. It isn't the thing any more", and in the end - although she has to wait for a period of time that would seem endless today before marrying the man she loves - she opts for a poorer but obviously happier life. It would be very easy to simply say that Beth is not given anything dramatic or interesting to do, but that is the whole point of her character. She watches those around her do great and exciting things, and there is a sense that she herself is happy with that. Susan Sarandon's Marmee clearly holds this family together - the ideal mother figure, she is comforting, incredibly wise I wonder if anyone has ever met anyone with all the wisdom she seems to have and always on hand to encourage her girls in their quest to do as they please. The male characters are also interesting. John Brooke is stable and compassionate and sensible. Laurie also known as Teddy just occasionally can be quite an intense figure and I was amazed to find that Christian Bale was only about twenty when this film was released. It is as interesting to see the changes his personality goes through as it is to see those the girls go through. The Professor is a slightly unorthodox character and yet he complements Jo perfectly.I have watched this film many, many times now so many, in fact, that I have sometimes been known to say the lines along with the characters as they say them and I know I will watch it many more times in the future. It might perhaps be a bit of a holiday film but it's certainly worth watching for the feel-good factor it generates.
The most interesting thing about the three film versions of "Little Women" is comparing them to each other or comparing each of them to Alcott's book. What makes them so difficult to choose between is that the casting of the four title characters is the critical element, and each film featured at least one actress whose performance was clearly superior to her character's portrayal in the other two films. This all star cast would include Jean Parker Beth in the 1933 version, Janet Leigh Meg in the 1949 version, and Winona Ryder Jo in the 1994 version. The 1994 version <more>
also had the best Amy, if only because they wisely split the role into a younger Amy Kirsten Dunst and an older Amy Samantha Mathis . Since Jo is pretty clearly the most important of the four sisters to the story , the 1994 version gets my nod as the best of the three films. The 1933 version pulls in as a close second as Joan Bennett and Katherine Hepburn are the second best Amy and Jo; and Francis Dee's Meg is as good as Trini Alvarado's. Neither Margaret O'Brien nor Claire Danes come even close to Parker's portrayal of Beth. The biggest casting problem all the productions had was in the age of the actresses. With the exception of Beth, all three characters must span a five year period. The casting process typically addressed this by selecting older actresses and getting them to play with varying degrees of success much June Allyson was 32 years old younger versions of themselves during the first half of the film. At least the 1994 versions managed to get the birth order right. The 1933 version had some problems in this area, as Hepburn was two years older than Dee and Bennett five years older than Parker. While this still causes many Alcott fans to cringe, it is nothing compared to the 1949 version where Allyson was ten years older than Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor was five years older than O'Brien. Taylor should have played Jo, which would have saved viewers from Allyson's embarrassing portrayal and from Taylor's attempt to pass as a blonde. Few actresses even in black and white were less suited to a light hair color. While Taylor's portrayal of Amy is painful, she would have been well suited to the Jo role. Critics frequently point out that both Hepburn and Allyson were much like Jo in real life, so there is a certain irony that Ryder's portrayal of the character one so dissimilar to herself was far superior. But Ryder and Jo have a similar level of intensity so maybe it was not as much a stretch as it seems. Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
Wow, what do you know? A worthy remake! (by Boyo-2)
I've seen the original, starring Katherine Hepburn as Jo which was directed by George Cukor in what seems to be 1901. That's an excellent version of this story, a real classic.Maybe the story just needed a 'new coat of paint' to spruce it up a bit because it sure does seem new and worth telling again. Winona Ryder has to carry the movie, more or less, and gives a confident performance as the independent Jo. Susan Sarandon is not around that much but makes a good Marmee. Christian Bale is great, as always, and Trini Alvarado and Eric Stoltz round out the cast. You don't <more>
see Claire Danes that much, but then it becomes about her quite a bit as the story moves on. A gift she receives for Christmas from a kindly neighbor could give your tearducts a workout, at the very least. Beautiful movie. Could even be longer, and how many times can you say that about anything?
Spoilers herein.This film is proof that sentimental drama is not necessarily a waste. Melodrama is when the characters are driven by the situation and that's certainly not the case here. Gillian Armstrong impressed with `Oscar and Lucinda' which sculpted emotions far beyond what any actor might. And so here as well with lesser emotions.The story is essentially about itself, a film about a book about writing itself from a recalled, probably invented memory centered on roles and role-playing. The book is about ideas and is disguised as simple drama. The film is more squarely a simple <more>
drama without the ideas, so the viewer should be warned that the journey isn't worth it unless you know the books -- at least `Little Men.' In watching, you have to know what Bronson Alcott though about the relationship of schools, writing and life. But if you do, this becomes more than a family portrait.This is the best period for both Dunst and Ryder, the rest are treacley, especially Sarandon. But the real star is Armstrong, whose eye is all about bringing frames to what is pictured as life. There are lots of books and plays in the story, but Armstrong also uses the metaphor of flowers for books or potential books throughout. The best shot is after Beth dies: the grandmother crushes roses to get their petals and sprinkles them on the deathbed, then a collection of dolls on a chest. This is terrific stuff, a lasting image. The next scene has Jo putting the dolls in the chest and discovering the childhood writing. Everything before and after revolves around that moment, which is when the writing of what we are watching begins.Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 4: Worth watching.
This 1994 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's evergreen classic novel is a valiant and very workman-like effort that tries very hard to match the quality of the great 1933 production. Obviously technical aspects of this most recent version leave the old war horse in the dust, especially in the sound and editing departments. Although the new film doesn't obliterate memories of the wonderful art direction and costume design of the early "talkie" , it does a remarkable job of recreating the look of post Civil War New England, with meticulous attention to detail. As with the 1949 <more>
effort, this one is in color, and as photographed by Geoffrey Simpson it is by far the most ravishing "Little Women" to look at. Imagine a hand-tinted Christmas card circa mid 1800s and you'll have some idea of the visual beauty this film offers the viewer. As the story of "Marmee" March Susan Sarandon and her four spirited daughters unfolds, the screen is brilliantly awash with each successive season, winter and spring being most memorable. The Currier and Ives facade of the old sound film is magnified tenfold here. A note on the acting : Katherine Hepburn's Jo March dominated the '33 movie to such an extent that she nearly overwhelmed some excellent supporting performances; a lot of this was due to her unusual mien [ lovely but far from the "standard look" of the era ] and Bryn Mawr educated diction. The new picture boasts two outstanding portrayals : Winona Ryder's Jo is a luminous creation, less tomboyish and more introspective than Hepburn's characterization. Jo's thunder is nearly stolen by Claire Dane's brilliant interpretation of the kind hearted, sickly Beth. My one gripe is the tad too cute acting of the angelic looking Kirsten Dunst as the younger Amy ; It's a respectable performance but it suffers at times from a tendency to ape the precious mannerisms of the 40's child actress Margaret O'Brien [ who ironically played the older Beth in the '49 release! ]. Australian director Gillian Armstrong has gained a solid reputation for eliciting strong female performances in her collective work, much like George Cukor [1933's director] achieved with his films. Is this new LITTLE WOMEN one for the ages? I think the Hepburn version still reigns, but the new film is an earnest and worthy effort ; it should endure.