I like big books and I cannot lieeee
‘‘Little Women’’: Historical setting with up-to-date messages
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‘‘Little Women’’: Originally from the late 19th century and newly adapted in 2019, but its original charm remains. Bild: leda
‘‘Little Women’’: Originally from the late 19th century and newly adapted in 2019, but its original charm remains.

REVIEW. A book, beloved by generations. Several film adaptations, the last one from late 2019. Four girls turning into women and taking you with them.

In 1868 and 1869 American author Louisa May Alcott published two separate volumes that are now collectively known as ‘‘Little Women’’. The story of four sisters has touched generations – and has therefore been adapted to TV as well as the big screen several times. Sure, there is the historical background, set in New England during the American Civil War. And yet, the real focus of the story is as relevant today as it was then: the different dreams and personalities the sisters – Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen), and Amy (Florence Pugh) – have and the different ways their lives turn out.
As it has always been, it is exactly this focus that makes the film as endearing and heart-warming as it is.

‘‘Just because my dreams are different than yours, it doesn’t mean they’re unimportant’’, Meg tells her sister Jo on the day of her wedding. While being married and having children is the life Meg wants to lead, it is exactly the opposite of what Jo wants.
This example perfectly demonstrates why the film still resonates with modern audiences: it represents different things girls and women may wish for in life, without any judgement or creating a hierarchy. Meg’s dreams to marry and have children are illustrated as equal to Jo’s desire to move away and become a writer. And it is just the same with their personalities: While definitely not flawless, the sisters are loveably diverse in their characters – and yet, Amy’s lively and passionate personality is not shown as more or less valuable than Beth’s shy and quiet character. In a perfect world, this should not be a surprising quality; however, many films do not achieve this sort of non-judgemental representation – so ‘‘Little Women’’ should be applauded for it.

‘‘I suppose marriage has always been an economic proposition, even in fiction’’, Jo March, who is the closest thing the film has to a protagonist, huffs at some point. And indeed, ‘‘Little Women’’ does not lack a good love story (featuring the ever-charming potential crush Timothée Chalamet) – with a more or less unpredictable twist, at least for people who do not know the story.
At the beginning of the film, Jo’s publisher tells her that any female character she writes about should either be dead or married at the end of her stories. Towards the ending – ATTENTION, SPOILERS FOR AN ALMOST 150 YEARS OLD BOOK – this is the fate of all the sisters. Looking from a feminist perspective, does this make the story less valuable? Or does it even destroy the whole message? ‘‘Little Women’’ does not just implicitly comment on this but rather openly discusses the idea that a woman’s story is neither less significant nor less feminist because she ends up in a happy relationship with a man. Using the example of Jo March, ‘‘Little Woman’’ shows that a woman does not become less tough because she falls in love – and that she can indeed pursue both her dreams of writing as well as having a happy relationship. As ‘‘Little Women’’ does with all of its important messages, it also conveys this one with humour.

Friendship and love, art and travelling, pretty dresses, a nice scenery, heartfelt emotions – both sad and happy ones: ‘‘Little Women’’ has it all. Above all, there is always the idea that nothing is more important than family; and yet, not just family as a traditional term for the sisters and their parents but also everyone close to them. ‘‘Little Women’’ has the potential to make you smile through your tears and leave the cinema with a warm heart and a feeling of empowerment.                                               

:Charleena Schweda