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The remake of Little Women is coming and it’s the feminist film we need

Remake of Little Women

Kate guest posts today on what to expect from the remake of Little Women on the big screen. Find out why it’s a must-see feminist film.

Few novels celebrate sisterhood quite like Little Women. Throughout the years, various directors have adapted Louisa May Alcott’s classic for the stage and the movies. Greta Gerwig’s interpretation of the work is slated to hit the big screen on Christmas Day in 2019.

The release couldn’t come at a better time. News stories abound concerning women having their rights eroded and their realities questioned — even alongside stories of solidarity and awareness. Society needs a reminder that when women stand together, they can overcome anything.

Who was Louisa May Alcott?

Women need to always work harder to achieve their dreams. Even today, women face challenges with equality — but in the 1800s, people considered women who treasured career aspirations especially unusual and even threatening.

Alcott began her career as a teacher and a domestic assistant. During the Civil War, she worked as a nurse in Washington, D.C. She began writing short stories and poems under the name Flora Fairfield and studied informally with such greats as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The publication of Little Women provided financial security for Alcott and her family. While demand for her children’s books remained high, leading her to publish Little Men and Eight Cousins, Alcott penned adult novels as well. Her novel A Modern Mephistopheles, for example, deals with the nature of human evil as well as sex and drug use.

Why Little Women is an enduring classic

Little Women endures in part because of the relatability of the characters. Who can forget Amy burning Jo’s manuscript as retaliation for Jo’s refusal to take her to the movies? Or how Jo later unintentionally plays a hand in Amy almost drowning in an icy lake?

The sisters share fights, some of them bitter. But like all siblings, what holds them together in the end proves stronger than the forces trying to tear them apart. And while many feminists understandably point to Jo as the heroine of the novel, Alcott shows that femininity in all its forms is necessary and vital.

For example, shy and reticent Beth hardly seems a feminist icon. Rather than engaging in typical activities like enjoying teas and galas, she prefers to live through her music. The foreshadowing of her demise runs throughout the story, and even those well-acquainted with the tale shed tears when the inevitable finally happens.

Beth, too, prefers home and family. She serves as a bulwark for the others and reminds readers and viewers alike that honoring the nurturing side of humanity matters every bit as much as seeking fame and fortune.

A teacher may never know, for example, that she inspired a child to keep going when he was ready to drop out of school. A supervisor may never know her guidance and encouragement reignited an underling’s passion for his career. But these actions matter.

In celebration of feminist movies

Despite the success of hits like Wonder Woman in 2017, the world needs more female-centered films with believable leads. Many movies featuring strong female protagonists fall into one of two categories: superhero fandoms or chick flicks.

But women make up slightly more than half of the population. Real-life women perform acts of daily heroism every bit as often as their male peers. And, at a point in history where many women find their voices drowned out, the world needs to hear about the female experience.

For example, members of the media lamented Jeffry Epstein’s death, stating the world would now never know the truths he hid. However, many of his victims are alive and well — why don’t we simply ask them about their experiences? Why do the unspoken words of a billionaire sexual predator bear more weight than those of his victims?

We frequently see a problematic lack of inclusion in Hollywood. Last year, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water drew criticism for having the potential to amplify the voices of real disabled actors, but instead choosing to feature an all able-bodied cast. And indeed, Wonder Woman faced similar criticism at its release for casting women of color as mostly background characters in a setting that provided ample opportunity for more inclusiveness and intersectionality.

The remake of Little Women is the latest feminist film to watch

Even movies meant to celebrate the triumphs of women, such as the Ruth Bader Ginsberg biopic On the Basis of Sex leave some feminists feeling disenchanted because they ignore the messy realities women bereft of fame tend to face. Little Women, conversely, deals with the travails of four females who could live next door.

It’s a feminist story, but also one about love, family, friendship and the inconvenient imperfections of everyday life. And the protagonists come to feel like family themselves, so realistic are their depictions.

So, this December 25 or soon after, consider heading to the theater to enjoy the newest revision of Alcott’s classic Little Women!

About today’s writer

Kate is a lifestyle and wellness journalist from Pennsylvania. She particularly enjoys writing about topics related to women’s health and well-being. If you like her work, you can subscribe to her blog, So Well, So Woman.

Do you plan to see the remake of Little Women? Why or why not?


Top photo credit: Aussie~mobs, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr

10 thoughts on “The remake of Little Women is coming and it’s the feminist film we need”

  1. Thanks so much for the kind words about my work, everyone! I’m glad you all liked the post — enjoy the movie release! :)

  2. One of my favourite books and 50 + years ago when I first read it, I was encouraged to discount the expectations of my parents and teachers. At that time options were much fewer but I am sure that like me, other girls between 14-16 who read this book were inspired. Terrific post thanks Christy and Kate.

  3. I loved Alcott’s books when I was growing up. I think I identified most with Meg, the oldest, and Joe, the writer, but I wanted to wrap Beth up and keep her from getting sick. I can’t wait to see it. Thanks for sharing Kate and Christy!

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