Friday, March 20, 2015

Little Women: Big Deal?


Does the idea of another Little Women make you jump in the air shouting girl power or yawn "Not again"? Is it a big exciting deal that they're remaking this classic or do you see it as a tired old tale?Obviously it's an old-fashioned story—the book covers are all pretty hideous, promising nothing but tragedy and treacle, but could a re-telling make it newly relevant and compelling for today's twitter generation? Written by Louisa May Alcott in 1868,  Little Women is the semi-autobiographical story of Alcott and her sisters as they grew up and came of age in Civil war-torn America.

Wynona Ryder and Christian Bale as Jo and Laurie in Little Women/1994

The book has come to your local movie house four times before, most recently in 1994 when 23 year old Wynona Ryder was Oscar-nominated for her performance as Jo. The rest of the cast included 20 year old Christian Bale as Laurie, with then-12 year old Kirsten Dunst as the younger Amy March, and Samantha Mathis as her older incarnation, 15 year old Claire Danes as Beth and Trini Alvarado as Meg. Susan Sarandon was Mrs. March, better known as 'Marmy.'


Now that Sony is planning another remake I'll give the movie a gander and the book a re-read, especially as Sarah Polley has been drafted to write the screenplay. Basically I think freshness is guaranteed; the Canadian actor/writer /director is an absolute genius and wouldn't know how to write a staid reboot of a classic if she tried. If you saw her documentary Stories We Tell you probably agree with me. If you haven't seen it, stop reading this right now and go directly to Amazon or Google Play and watch the way Polley plays with reality—and your mind—to tell the spell-binding story of her family. It's like a magic trick. Er, make that go watch it when you finish reading this. Polley also wrote and directed Away from Her, based on the short story Over the Mountain, getting an Oscar nom for her screenplay adaptation of Alice Munro's story about a woman with Alzheimer's.


The trades indicate it's not clear yet whether Polley will just write or write and direct; I'm excited to see what she does with the story. Will she re-imagine it in a contemporary setting? Could the pathos of the Civil War be recast as the the ongoing struggles in Iraq or Afghanistan?This newest version of Little Women is being produced by Amy Pascal, the former Sony studio boss who was forced to step down in the wake of the Sony hack with its' embarrassing email leaks. I wonder if she's still making $3 million per year?


I just watched the trailer again and realize I totally forgot Gabriel Byrne was the older man who encourages Jo to pursue her dreams of being a writer. Thinking about Jo's writing, her desire to put off marriage and go to New York to be a writer, maybe Little Women is less old-fashioned than I remembered. Watch the trailer; see if you agree?


  1. I'm a bit of an outlier, I think, because as a child, Little Women bored me and because of that, I've not really cared one way or the other about its various film incarnations.

    I'd probably see one, though, if it promised to bring something new to the table, and Sarah Polley sounds like she'll do that.

    1. Well if anyone can, I'd bet on her. I'm curious to know what you thought of Paper Towns? Is it a fab YA choice or as overworked an idea as the trailer feels to me?

    2. Never read it. I loved The Fault In Our Stars. Then I read Looking for Alaska and couldn't understand what the fuss was about.

    3. I read An Abundance of Catherines (Katherines?) and felt much the same.

  2. Little Women with Wynona Rider was just on TV here last week. I watched it and really enjoyed it. I thought Wynona was really great in it. I'm always less than enthralled when they want to make yet another remake of a good movie. I'll be interested to see if it flies.

    1. It did get 3 Oscar nominations including one for Wynona after all. It's on Amazon instant streaming so I'll be squeezing out some time to see it soon too.


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