A Barnard Alumna’s New Take on 'Little Women'

Literature enthusiasts are excitedly anticipating Greta Gerwig’s (Barnard College class of 2006) new film adaption of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel, Little Women. Gerwig’s movie, which is the eighth film adaption of this classic, has a release date set for Dec. 25, 2019. Starring big Hollywood names including Saiorse Ronan, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, and Timothée Chalamet, the movie will surely appeal to many audiences.

Gerwig has an impressive filmography stretching back many years, but she received tremendous praise for her 2017 film, Lady Bird. The bildungsroman tale enchanted audiences nationwide and received several awards, including a Golden Globe and multiple Oscar nominations. Following this tremendous success, many are intrigued to see how Gerwig will spin Alcott’s age-old book, which is also a coming-of-age story about young women. 

The film follows the well-known story of the four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. The young women live in the Civil War era and have recently experienced a loss of social power due to financial problems. Working to maintain their status and lifestyle, each girl must set to work to provide for the family. In the process, the young women will develop very distinct personalities and opinions. While being advised by their mother, Marmee, they discover their place and role in the world.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Gerwig revealed that the movie had been largely shot in the true setting of the novel: rural Massachusetts. Gerwig commented on this decision, stating, “It gives gravity to what you’re doing. The physical place really reminds you of the story you’re trying to tell.” Other elements of the movie that are expected to contribute to an authentic revival include the costumes and the musical score. The lead costume designer is Jacqueline Durran, well known for her work in other period pieces such as Pride and Prejudice and Anna Karenina. The movie soundtrack has already been released on Spotify and was composed by Thomas Newman, recognized for his musical contributions to The Help, American Beauty, and Wall-E.

As could be expected from a proud Barnard alumna, the film is expected to be sprinkled with underlying feminist themes and remarks. While women were largely restricted to domestic roles during the era Alcott was writing, the film’s trailer hints that at least one of the sisters will challenge the patriarchal standards of society. We look forward to seeing the feminist influence of Barnard translate into Gerwig’s movie!