In this episode, we compare and contrast two film adaptations of Little Women: Gilian Armstrong’s 1994 film and Greta Gerwig’s 2019 one. We discuss the films’ differing approaches to each of the March sisters, their paramours, and the family; the pros and cons of Gerwig’s structural changes; and how each film is a product of its era. Special guests Brenna Clarke Gray (co-host of Hazel & Katniss & Harry & Starr) and Caitlin Merriman join Executive Editor Orla Smith and episode host Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney.
Based on the 19th-century book by Louisa May Alcott, which is set during and in the aftermath of the American Civil War, both Little Women films are the story of the four sisters of the March family: Meg (Trini Alvarado and Emma Watson), the eldest sister who dreams of marrying for love; Jo (Winona Ryder and Saoirse Ronan), who dreams of being a writer and a boy; Beth (Claire Danes and Eliza Scanlan), a quietly empathetic soul who gets sick early on; and the youngest, Amy (Kirsten Dunst/Samantha Mathis and Florence Pugh), as stubborn as Jo but intent on marrying well. Armstrong’s film is a coming-of-age story; Gerwig’s film, which starts when the girls are adults and flashes back to their childhood, is more interested in the aftermath of the choices they make about their paths in life.
Show notes and Recommended Reading
- Join Seventh Row’s Book Club to receive four Seventh Row ebooks delivered to your inbox every year + our most recent book
- Read Sarah Blackwood & Sarah Mesle’s “No One Likes Meg” essay on Avidly.
- Listen to Brenna Clarke Gray and Joe Lipsett’s Hazel & Katniss & Harry & Starr episode on Little Women
- Read resident Timothée Chalamet scholar Orla Smith’s essay on Chalamet’s coming-of-age performances
- Read Sarah Blackwood and Sarah Mesle on why “No One Likes Meg” and read Sarah Blackwood on “The Marmee Problem”
- Like period pieces about women artists? Pre-order our next ebook on Céline Sciamma, featuring Portrait of a Lady on Fire