2019 film Little Women is based on the novel of the same name by May Alscott. The book is almost 150 years old and this film adaptation has become the ninth in a row. So, let’s try to figure out what kind of film it is, what the author wanted to tell us about and how the director managed to translate it on the screen.
What is Little Women about?
The original novel consists of two volumes. In the first volume, we are told about the youth and period of growing up of the four sisters from the March family, and in the second volume, the time of their formation in society is revealed. In the film, the timelines are jumbled. The viewer is alternately immersed in a carefree childhood and the fun of girls, then they show who they became when they grew up, what problems they faced in life. From the plot, we learn that the father of the family is at the front (Civil War), and the children and their mother spend time carefree in their estate. So, the main characters are four sisters:
Meg is an older sister who dreams of a bright life in high society and zealously wants to get married; Jo is a carefree young lady who plans to become a writer, takes notes about all the events around her (the prototype of the author of the book); Amy – has outstanding abilities in terms of painting; Beth is the youngest of the sisters, a modest and quiet child who is fond of music.
The meaning of colors in the film
As mentioned earlier, the picture is simultaneously narrating from several timelines. In order not to confuse the viewer and to make it clear which of the passages speaks of the past and which of the future, the director of the film used the classical method. Greta Gerving decided to make flashbacks with a golden tint to the visuals, they seem to be filled with sunlight, warmth and comfort. The video sequence is full of bright colors and warm tones. When we are transported to the present, where the heroines have matured and are forced to face dramatic events in the history of their country, the picture is taken through gray and blue filters. Thanks to this, we notice that in the future everything is gray and faded. In part, this symbolizes the period of growing up, the collapse of hopes and illusions.
You can not ignore the notes of feminism in the film. All our heroines are talented and self-sufficient girls who have outstanding talents and are trying to realize themselves. After growing up, they realize (all but Meg) that they are in no hurry to get married, have children and live peacefully in the shadow of their husband. Jo’s character deserves special attention – she strives more than others to realize herself in the professional field and help her family.
This work is deeply autobiographical. The author of the novel, May Olscot, did not hide the fact that she was brought up in similar conditions, in the same family, she caught all the events described and the sorrows associated with them. Therefore, in many ways, this book is about her. It is interesting that Olscot somewhat romanticized the plot, for example, it is known that her father was not a war hero who went to the front, but simply waited out when this disaster would end.
What is the meaning of the Little Women (2019) ending?
The film’s ending is rather unusual. The director of the film prepared two whole endings for the audience in order to pay tribute to the admirers of the novel, previous adaptations, and also to make happy people who get to know this work for the first time. If you ignore everything related to the biography of May Alscot, you might think that the events of the film were just fiction placed on the pages of the novel, and the reality is more gray and cruel.
So, in the final, the viewer is presented with two parallel lines. Jo, one of the main sisters, strengthens her conviction that getting married and having children is stupid, she remains unmarried and childless. But the publisher persuades her to give the joy of marriage and motherhood to the main character of her novel “Little Women”, which Joe does. After that, the novel is published and it brings the elder sister a resounding success.
An interesting fact is that at the end of the book, Jo is really in love with her neighbor, Professor Baer, and becomes his wife. In the film, we are shown a slight hint of this love, but do not allow Joe to realize female happiness.