Why Little Women is an Instant Classic

I watched Little Women a week ago and I’m still not quite out of its world. I watched it alone - well, alone with about 200 other people watching it alongside me. I watched it as a writer, as a young sibling, as a friend and as a woman – and I think I’m ready to finally put my thoughts into words. If you haven’t yet seen this movie, be ready for spoilers.

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Greta Gerwig has done a fantastic job adapting Louise May Alcott’s book into a screenplay fit for today’s cinema, and I’m not the only one who thinks this – with 6 Oscar nominations under its sleeve, Little Women has made a significant impression on the filmmaking of today. Even though the book was first published in 1868, the story is just as relevant as it was back then. It’s about women struggling to make names for themselves and work extremely hard in a male-dominated world, and Gerwig brilliantly contrasts the differences of these two worlds. Laurie is yearning for the love and warmth that Jo has been brought up in, meanwhile Jo longs for the freedom that men like Laurie possess. Gerwig has chosen to portray the lives of the March sisters in a series of flashbacks rather than a chronological set of events, showing us the difficulties of growing up and growing apart. Orange and blue hues indicate the timeline we’re in, so it’s easy to draw parallels between events and understand the significance of each point in their lives.

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I think it goes without saying that the cast is brilliant – Saoirse Ronan’s performance as Jo March stood out to me because every line of dialogue is delivered with such passion, her determination to be heard almost palpable. Her love for writing makes me want to return to writing by hand so I can be dramatic and get ink everywhere and write until my hand cramps. Meanwhile, Meg March (played by Emma Watson) contrasts her sister by showing us that there is strength in femininity, that a woman’s worth does not change with marriage and that because her dreams are different does not mean they are less important. Amy March (played by Florence Pugh) is the dreamer in all of us, but she chases those dreams and is unafraid to be ambitious. Finally, Eliza Scanlen’s Beth March is the glue that holds the family together until she’s not. The March sisters are 4 women shaping entirely different but equally valuable destinies, and they will surely serve as great role models for generations to come.

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Greta Gerwig has put so much effort and love into the making of this movie, and it shows in the small details. Dialogue overlaps create a sense of rhythm and immerse us into their world. It’s believable and it’s real. Laurie is seen fidgeting with the ring Jo gave him in many scenes, but it is missing when he finally kisses Amy. At the start of the movie, the play Jo is watching is Twelfth Night and it’s the scene where Viola (dressed as a man) seduces Olivia. Make of it what you will, but Gerwig has put her soul into each thing from their outfits (each sister’s outfit mirrors something from their mother Mamrie) to the last lines of dialogue.

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Because I have not read the book yet (but intend to do so as soon as I can get my hands on it), it was hard for me to digest the ending because I am, at the end of the day, a hopeless romantic. Looking back at it now, that was the only true ending there could be. It’s a deliberate choice made by Alcott and Gerwig hasn’t changed it to please anyone. Gerwig has nailed the grief of looking back on your childhood and knowing it’s impossible to return. There is so much emphasis on pain, joy and loneliness and how these memories shape us into adults. Each character in this movie delivers lines so quotable that everyone will find Little Women an enriching experience. It’s a masterpiece, and it’s a story destined to be retold again and again because women deserve to be reminded that they are worthy of love and their efforts do not go unnoticed.