“Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for.” This quote, by protagonist Josephine “Jo” March touches on one of the main themes of the new movie Little Women: female equality and empowerment.
Released on December 25, 2019, Little Women is the latest screen adaptation of the novel by Louisa May Alcott and tells the story of the March sisters, Meg, Amy, Jo, and Beth and their experience growing up during the Civil War. The March sisters grow up rather poor with their father away fighting in the Union Army, and are constantly reminded throughout the film of their place in society as women; that their duty is solely to get married to a rich man.
This is a spoiler, but Beth died of scarlet fever before she ever married, Meg gave up the chance of luxury and wealth when she married a poor man, and Jo is never married, leaving Amy with the burden of supporting their struggling family. While all four girls are intellectually curious in different pursuits, Jo finds herself caught up in the world of writing, and strives to write stories that will satisfy the publisher in her area. Defying gender stereotypes, Jo writes the book “Little Women” starring a heroine who she planned to never have wed, but reluctantly ended up marrying off due to pressure from her male publisher.
The film is colorful and charming and perfectly captures a story of sisterhood and coming of age. It puts a modern, quirky spin on a historical drama, and although it may not have the riveting plot like that of a Marvel movie, Little Women is captivating and inspiring with a wonderful cast. I was initially drawn to this movie because actress Emma Watson stars in it. I always find that she adds a refreshing spark to any film with her intelligence and wit so prominent in the Harry Potter films, for example. In addition, the crotchety aunt March is played by Meryl Streep and Jo March is played by actress Saoirse Ronan, who starred as a lead role in the award-winning film Lady Bird.
Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for.”
I would highly recommend this movie to all ages and genders, whether or not they have read the book. Little Women is yet another fantastic film that explores the issues of gender and class in our society in a memorable way. Similar to films such as Hidden Figures, Little Women features strong female leads that challenge the accepted beliefs of the world they live in. These types of films are especially influential to young women and girls, as they show how influential and important women really are in the world, that they are not just meant to serve domestic functions, but that they can achieve even their greatest goals. It expresses that women need not only focus on getting married and having a family, that they can become anything- a painter, writer, mathematician, actress, or pianist- if they stay resilient and work hard.
These are the lessons that I believe young girls need to learn today and in the future. Even girls my age (teenagers) were still growing up with sexist Barbie and Disney princess movies and television shows that enforced gender stereotypes and encouraged negative body image- with the idea that girls should have shiny long hair, wear dresses, and be willowy thin in order to be beautiful. However, the young girls of today are growing up with movies like Hidden Figures, Little Women, and Harriet. I do think that these types of movies are important for boys and young men to see as well. Stereotypes about women are not just hurdles that girls have to learn to either confront or maneuver their way around, boys should be taught about these obstacles and how to challenge these stereotypes and prevent themselves from perpetuating them as well.
So far, Little Women has been underrepresented this awards season, with only two Golden Globe nominations- best performance by a leading actress in a motion picture and best original score. This may be the result of a lack of male viewer’s interest or bias against the female-dominated film, although it has had quite a large audience in its first days in theatres overall and has been received well among many film critics and celebrities.
Little Women is a delightful film that I believe everyone should take a couple of hours to go see. With its stunning scenery and marvelous cast, director Greta Gerwing is sure to have viewers hooked.