Thursday, 26 March 2009

Review: Little Women

Being unemployed means several things. It means being able to sit around all day in your pyjamas if you like. It also means watching a few DVDs you said to yourself you'd watch but haven't yet.

One of those was, for me, the version of "Little Women" starring Winona Ryder.

I watched it today and I was ... well, a little disappointed. I loved the book; I've read it a zillion times over and I guess the worst bit about it was that my FAVOURITE BITS were cut.
For those who don't have a thorough acquaintance with the book by Louisa M. Alcott, it is divided into two parts which are often published separately, but sometimes together under the title "Little Women". The first is called "Little Women, the second is called "Good Wives". The movie encompasses both, but doesn't delve into the activities of the other sequels "Jo's Boys" or "Little Men".

I don't think this was a bad decision at all. Except that, since the first half concentrates on the activities of one year in the March family and then the second book gives the "what happened next to the girls - careers, marriage, etc", I felt some of it was rushed and a lot of the characters weren't given time to develop properly.

Some relationships and motives aren't even explained very well. there are some scenes and anecdotes that are cut for obvious reasons or "merged". But some of the most fun ones are to - and while they aren't absolutely necessary to getting us to the endpoint, they do give us insight to the motives and character development so we can care about them.

For instance:

It makes perfect sense to cut the chapter where Marmee teaches Meg and Jo a lesson that all play and no work doesn't pay - because the chapter in the book basically describes how they get on each other's nerves and make mistakes through lazing about all day. Probably a less exciting scene on film.

But scenes like Amy's tea party gone wrong and Laurie's picnic would have been rather amusing. I also thought they could have made more of when Jo published her first piece of writing. The "Castles in the Air" piece might have been a bit of"all talk, no action" but it did reveal a bit about the girls and the dialogue could easily have been transposed into the attic or picnic scene.

And I would have loved to see John Brooke actually propose to Meg.

The making of Amy's will was "testament" somewhat to her character development, but it was completely cut - no wonder there were so many complaints about the movie that Amy never deserved Laurie and Jo should have married him, because there was never any opportunity given for:

a) Jo and Laurie to quarrel
b) Laurie to show that he was not very serious and he cared for art and had ways that were similar to Amy
c) Amy to be reformed, and to grow up properly


That is what I will say bout it. I also would have liked a bit more shown of the sweet relationship between Mr Laurence and Beth.

Far too much of this story seemed to leave the relationships and the personalities of the girls who make the book so special by the wayside, and in the end you ought to be caring about all of them - especially Jo, but all of them.

In general though, the actors did a good job and the scenery is really beautiful. I just kept adding in to the script as I went along, in my head.

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