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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Chaotic is an understatement when describing what it’s like to grow up with three sisters. Trust me, I would know. I was raised as one of four daughters and for as long as I can remember my house has been teeming with mayhem, but it’s a marvelous mayhem. Whether it was almost burning the house down attempting to craft the childhood, the culinary classic lunch of microwave mac and cheese or getting into a habitual screaming match about wearing the others clothes without their permission, we sure knew how to keep our parents’ blood pressures high. After recently seeing Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women”, it seems that Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March did just the same (minus the microwave, of course, it was only the 1800s). 

two friends laughing
Savannah Dematteo
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of viewing this charming adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 original, the story is centered around four sisters who differ in character, but find common ground through their relentless love for one another. The oldest, Meg, is calculated and caring with dreams of becoming an actress. The second-oldest, Jo, is ambitious, affectionate, and strives to be a writer rather than a wife. The third, Beth, is sweet and soft-spoken, as well as being prodigy at the piano. Finally, the youngest, Amy, is spunky and stubborn, with a gift of painting. In simple terms, this movie is the story of the girls’ young lives as they make their way in the world, achieved by the movie jumping back and forth between scenes of adulthood and childhood. It’s a reimagined historical coming-of-age that teens and adults alike can relate to as the girls navigate their relationships and career aspirations. While the central concept is simple, or as Jo herself describes it, “boring”, it is enchanting in its portrayal of childhood reminiscence and familial fondness.

girl running through field
Sasha Freemind
Visually, this recreated classic is stunning. Along with fantastic cinematography, the perfectly placed pastels and the character’s assigned color palettes display the attention to visual details. As a way to differentiate the two separate time frames featured, director Greta Gerwig inserts a warm filter over scenes from the girls’ childhood, painting their youth as full of life and light. With their early life illuminated by their bright futures, that filter is removed as the girls age into adulthood and must face their futures. This loss of saturation isn’t to say that their lives as adults aren’t equally as joyous as when they were children. Instead, the filter exhibits that adulthood is heavier in comparison to the carefree nature and levity of childhood, making the fleeting incandescence of immaturity something that should be treasured. Gerwig effortlessly transports the audience to the late 19th century New England as she repurposes Louisa May Alcott’s original to thematically fit into a modern frame while still remaining loyal to its Civil War and post-Civil War era roots. This along with it’s costuming earned a deserving nod from the Academy. This film shows that even though the typical “American girl” today doesn’t look or dress exactly like the ones featured in this flick, their struggles are replicable and relatable to teens and adults in the present. From fighting over a boy (which I do not blame for fighting over the character who is played by Timothée Chalamet) to coping with the loss of a loved one, the popular problems presented transcend time. 

One issue in particular that is stressed throughout the movie is the role of women in society. Marriage in particular is a hot topic of this movie. One of the first obstacles Jo faces as a writer is that she’s expected to only write stories where the female character is married by the end, ironic as Jo faces the same scrutiny from her family and society. The eldest sister, Meg, struggles as she chooses the life of a poor wife rather than a life in the limelight, placing her purpose and happiness in question. Even Amy wrestles with the fact that she must marry to survive, noting marriage to be an “economic prospect” (because it was), possibly coming at the price of her passions. While I can positively say that the freedom to work as a woman and the ability to choose whether to be married or not has improved since the late 1800s, the struggle of being a woman in society and being expected to do everything still holds true. Today, as a woman you’re expected to be successful, but not too successful. You’re expected to have a full-time career, but still be a devout mother. You’re expected to be driven and independent, but not to the point where you come off as bossy or rude. Being a woman is tiring and demanding and, as this movie shows, it always has been. 

woman in black dress stands outside in front of a fence holding her graduation cap
TinTin12 | Pixabay
Case and point: Greta Gerwig was snubbed of the Oscar nomination for “Best Director”. While the movie did receive six nominations, including Best Picture, credit was not given where it was due. Every single director nominated in the category in 2020 is male – just like last year. And the year before that, only one female was nominated. Who was that, you might ask? Greta Gerwig. In fact, her 2018 nomination was the only female nomination in the directing category since 2010 and only the fifth female director nomination in history. These statistics most definitely correlate to the fact that 69% of the Oscar voters are male. Disproportionate representation in Hollywood as a whole is another, more complicated rant for another time though.

Laptop with white mug that says the future is female with a lipstick mark
Pexels / CoWomen
For both Gerwin and the March Sisters, making your way in the world as a woman is easier said than done, but luckily what they all have in common is that they’re strong, intelligent women who will continue to persevere. As this movie inspires people, women especially, will continue to overcome and achieve. As heartwarming and touching as “Little Women” is, it’s so much more than that. When the mainstream media sees a film centered around the story of women, it is so often put on the back burner or categorized as a “chick flick”, when female representation in acting, casting, writing, and directing are needed now more than ever. We need little girls, sorry, little women, to have strong, female role models to look up to and strive to be successful like them which can’t be done if we don’t give credit to the females who deserve it now. Furthermore, this movie shows that the female experience is varied, tumultuous, beautiful and is not something to be belittled. Even the title itself, “Little Women”, is an oxymoron because if women and our strength are anything, it’s most definitely not “little”.  

Courtney Loth

Wisconsin '23

Student at the University of Wisconsin: Madison studying Journalism and Communications.
I am a senior at the greatest university— the University of Wisconsin. I am in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, double tracking in reporting and strategic communications and earning a certificate in and Digital Studies. I am a lover of dance, hiking, writing for Her Campus, the Badgers and strawberry acais. I am also a president of Her Campus Wisconsin.