I have never read Louisa May Alcott‘s 1869 novel Little Women. The first time I heard of Little Women was on This American Life’s episode #680. I did not know there had been 6 adaptations of the book but I knew of Greta Gerwig through her movie ‘LadyBird’. It took a wonderful recommendation from FilmJoy on YouTube for me to put Little Women (2019) on my list and watch it.
A fascinating aspect about the movie was how modern its ideology is. I expected a lot more stigma around women working and not marrying but the movie doesn’t put those things as barriers. It doesn’t present stigma of an independent women as an obstacle, it embraces it as if it is something that has always been a part of women’s lives.
The hardship that the March sisters face is not the society but life itself.
There is a certain joy about watching a movie so well crafted. I felt it when watching Parasite although for the complete opposite reasons. This movie made me live with the March family, laugh with them and grieve with them. It made me proud of Jo and what she had achieved despite everything. It made me happy for Amy & Meg for their marriages. I mourned for Beth like Jo & Marmee did.
The March family become my neighbours or an extension to my family. The March’s lives were mundane and I could see my life reflected in them.
I have thrown tamper tantrums because my brother didn’t bring me along when he hung out with his friends. There are times when I was happy for my name to be mispronounced or given a new name because I wanted to fit in. When we were young, my dad would be working out of the state so it would be an event when he would visit. He would routinely call at a specific time. I have ventured out of my home to accomplish something and support my family just like Jo has. I am sure my brother feels the same.
The characters are people who could be me or someone who I know. I have met people who are basically Jo or Beth and I will always cherish the time I spent with them. And at the same time, just like every character in this story grew up and grew apart, so did the people in my life.
It is a life story. No wonder this movie has been remade 7 times in its history.
The last 10 mins of this movie. Jo is in the attic. Bereft of her youngest sister, and her hope for a normal life. She finds her life not being anywhere close to what she imagined what it would be. What does she do?
What can you do if you are in her place?
You write your own story.
You put it down page by page, break it down piece by piece and rebuild. Editing, rewriting everything. You think about your story, you sleep with your story, eat with your story.
It doesn’t matter if you have to change the end of your story even though you don’t agree with it.
You make compromises.
Because it is not about the end of the story. It was never about the end of the story.
It will, and always be about the whole book that you can clutch in your hands.
After all of the hardship, the pain, the LIFE of it all, you did what you intended to do.