September 18th, 2007 at 10:27 am (Movies)
Movie versions of Little Women are always a little bit odd. They are much abridged, since the book is actually quite long, and generally put more meaning or emphasis behind some of the events than the book really seems to intend them to have (the better to sensationalize, my dear). This version is really no different. It tells the story of the four March sisters and how they grow from young ladyhood to adulthood while the Civil War and other various changes are happening in the rest of the country. Each girl is different, but they share a special bond and are clearly young women the audience is supposed to love and identify with (at least the female half of the audience is).
My biggest issues with this movie were in the portrayal of the girls themselves. Beth, for some reason, never grows up while the other three do. She never got any older, while Amy, who is ostensibly younger than her, grows up and starts wearing long skirts and even eventually gets married! Beth is still dressed as a little girl and speaking as a little girl up until the end, while the rest of them, obviously full grown women at this point, stand around her and it looks very odd. Amy, played by Elizabeth Taylor, is incredibly bratty. She actually kind of drove me crazy. I really wanted to like Amy, just like I liked the other three sisters, but I really couldn’t. I felt like Ashley was a dope for marrying her at the end and I felt really sorry for him having to spend the rest of his life dealing with her. I felt like Jo was trying to hard. It just didn’t feel natural. Meg was so generic that I hardly remember her at all! I don’t remember her actually getting much screen time anyway.
This wasn’t a terribly good interpretation of the book and it felt very choppy and odd as a movie in its own right as well. It really felt like it was saying “love these girls, aren’t they precious and wonderful?”, but Amy was an unlovable brat, Jo was so fake it hurt and Meg was completely forgettable. That’s a little hard to love. They all looked great. The costuming and sets were amazing. And the secondary characters were really well done. It’s just that the story isn’t about them, it’s about Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Somehow, that wasn’t what this felt like. It felt like a very strange, convoluted story about random people. I kept wondering why I was supposed to care.