Smithsonian.com thinks so. Writer Erin Blakemore presents her hopes that Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women will finally present a well-rounded and fair portrayal of the most maligned of the March sisters by borrowing from the rich life of May Alcott Nieriker.
The New ‘Little Women’ May Finally Do Justice to Its Most Controversial Character
Based on the trailer of the new adaptation of the beloved novel, Amy March seems poised to get the well-rounded portrait she deserves
For many Little Women fans, though, there’s a fly in the ointment, a single sister they love to hate. Amy March, the youngest of the bunch, polarizes fans with her selfishness and her suitor, the very man many readers think the book’s main character, Jo, should love. But if the trailer for Greta Gerwig’s new Little Women is any indicator, this December’s adaptation may finally do justice to one of Alcott’s least lovable characters—a sister who often leaves viewers feeling as sour as a pickled lime.
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/new-little-women-may-finally-do-justice-its-most-controversial-character-180972901/#AcbFvqePAWPZ2ckK.99
You can find Erin Blakemore on Twitter at @heroinebook if you want to respond to her article.
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18 Replies to “Greta Gerwig’s Little Women: Will Amy March finally catch a break?”
2017 version butchered Amy so badly that really a left sour taste to my mouth. I can´t say that many films treat her well. BBC adaptation from 1970 is the best what it comes to adult Amy.
Agreed re: the 2017 series. It is beyond me why such a distinguished screenwriter would so such a shallow study of Amy when all the other characters were spot on.
Screen writer of the 2017 version romanticised Jo and Laurie a great deal. Maya Hawke was wonderful and showed Jo with temper but Laurie´s temper was once again toned down and the pranks he does in the books were missing. I was glad that the series showed the way Laurie came to visit Amy at aunt March but that was all established after Amy was framed to be a dis-likeable character. I wish I could like the series more but the way Laurie and Amy are shown as one-dimensional characters only leave viewers confused. I loved Mark Stanley as Fritz but since the end was so rushed it felt that the screenwriter completely ignored his character and Jo´s growth as a person. It is never really explored in the films how Friedrich´s calm nature eases Jo´s temper and violent impulses and it is Jo who makes Fritz to be more impulsive and take chances. It is repeated in Jo´s Boys where Jo says that she should spent more time with Rob and Fritz with Ted because the boys have the similar effects to their parents.
Fritz is to Jo as Mr. March is to Marmee — I never thought of that before. I agree with all that you said, Given that Professor Bhaer (along with Beth) was not featured in the trailer tells me they will not be an important part of the film. But maybe I will be wrong!
I wonder if Jo was right about saying that she wasn’t tight for Laurie – that they were too alike and they would fight all the time. Laurie probably wanted a more docile, well-behaved wife who wasn’t career-minded and was very well-mannered and elegant. I personally love Amy (although burning Jo’s manuscript was pretty awful) and I would like to be more like her in many ways. Not the lack of ambition, but the tactfulness and elegance. I do think that Laurie and Amy got on well when he visited her at Aunt March’s place and they got on well. Jo and Laurie may have had a volatile marriage, although Anne and Gilbert fought a lot and were very competitive. However, Anne of Green Gables was published much later. It will be great to see Amy get her due in this one!
Agreed. It is hard to tell if Jo ever understood or appreciated Amy’s ability to get what she wanted because she was gracious. I almost get the impression that she thinks that Amy used her womanly wiles to manipulate people. I saw Amy as thinking about the other person’s needs in a genuine way which appealed to that person and then he or she would give her what she wanted. It’s kind of like how my son is with his friends. He treats them all like gold and in gratitude, they help him out. He is a natural at networking and Amy was too.
When we read little women as kids and we move from the first part to the second part we often miss to notice how much the girls have grown but Laurie remains the same at 21 as he was at 16. When proposes Jo he says that he loves her because she has always looked after her. He doesn´t see her as a full person and yet because of Jo´s own masculine trajectory, every time when Laurie did something intrusive Jo had hard time to criticise it, like during the time when laurie forged letters to Meg and hurt her. Jo´s relationship to Laurie is somewhere between a sister and a brother and quite often sister´s do mother their brothers. Jo does that throughout the books series in ways she takes care of young boys. When Laurie was in college she always reminded him not to smoke, drink, fight or speak slang. Laurie mistakes all this for love which only tells how little Laurie knows about love. Even when Amy scolds him he denies the fact that he´s been selfish or mistaken. He says “Jo was unreasonable” “it was all Jo´s fault”. It´s not until he goes to Vienna he starts to understand that maybe Amy was right. None of this makes Laurie a bad person. He wanted to break free from the obey-dance of his grandfather but he didn´t know how to do that and maybe he was also afraid. Laurie was also an orphan and in his youth Jo was the one who gave him more attention. At one level he was depending on the guidance. He was always being told by his grandfather, Mr Brooke and Jo to tell him what to do. When he proposed to Jo in away he wanted to keep that status quo of their relationship so that he would not have to take any responsibilities. How can a person love another person if they don´t know how to love themselves? In Good Wives Laurie´s proposal also works as a stepping stone for Jo´s feminist awakening. She sees that neither one of them can grow if things wont change. Anne and Gilbert are the opposite. Anne always had a feminine trajectory and neither Anne and Gilbert had the “brotherly” relationship that Jo and Laurie did. When Gilbert makes fun of Anne´s red hear, Jo would not be Anne, she would be more like Gilbert (at least in that age). When they grow Gil is much more similar to John and Fritz because he is a hard worker and he shares Anne´s love for Academia. Not to mention like Fritz Gil always supported Anne´s writings unlike Laurie.
I love Anne books. I´v read them dozen times. When Anne and Gilbert do become friends they are not that argumentative and Gil doesn´t have Laurie´s constant mood changes. He is more of a prankster when he is a teenager and unlike Jo who still struggles with her temper in her 50´s Anne learns to control her temper when she grows. When Anne is 16 she is much more mild-tempered and similar to Amy. In many ways AGG is more conventional. It doesn´t have the gender fluidly themes of Little Women, though it does have similar idolisation towards the masculine that Jo had (Anne and Marilla find Davy much more interesting than Dora, even when Davy locked his sister into a well).
Both Fritz and Beth play such a huge part on Jo´s growth it is wrong to dismiss them. I would even go so far as saying that they both are steps in the terms of Jo becoming a feminist. First step is Jo loosing the trip to Europe because the way she made fun of the feminine labour and Laurie trying to force Jo to take a role that is traditionally feminine. That breaks her ideas of masculinity that she has been admiring. Second step is meeting Friedrich who breaks the gender binary and offers her a new idea of masculinity. Third step is taking care of Beth and loosing Beth which forces Jo to observe her life choices and figure out what she wants. When Fritz returns to her life he offers her a relationship that does not require her to be traditionally feminine. In my headcanon they would have remained as a bohemian writer/philosopher couple in New York or somewhere 🙂 but Plumfield also does offer Jo a creative outlet. She continues writing and the students are all encouraged to form their own identity and instead of forcing kids to choose between masculine and feminine roles Jo and Fritz are blurrying the gender roles. Nan is a good example. She is a nurse who never marries. Tommy Bangs and Nan totally echo Jo and Laurie and yet Jo once again is happy when Tommy finds someone else and does not bother Nan´s work. Dan and Nat are another example. Dan hides his vulnerability and Nat is almost too open and sensitive, he can´t censor his emotions and that is one of the reason they become such close friends.
It looks like Gerwick´s version tries to update the story for the modern audience. It can work or it can be really bad (Anne with an E had references to climate change..I don´t think that was huge topic when the books came out). I don´t want the marriage between Jo and Fritz feel forced. What I´d like to see how big effect Fritz´s mixture of gender binary has on Jo but I won´t hold my breath. LW is such nuanced story it is difficult to capture on screen.
Yes, definitely true! This is why each time we read it we walk away with something new. In an article Gerwig talked about the nuance with gender, particularly with Jo and Laurie so we shall see where this goes. It would be nice if Bhaer were included in all of that because you make some great points, but where he was not mentioned in trailer, I have my doubts.
Have you joined the Louisa May Alcott group on Facebook? It’s sponsored by the Louisa May Alcott Society and Orchard House. I am one of the moderators — we’d love to have you join! Go here if you are interested https://www.facebook.com/groups/133575067326419/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
Thanks I´ll join the group. I know that Fritz is in the film but there wasn´t much John Brooke or Marmee in the trailer either so we´ll see how much Fritz there will be. I wish they would have hired a German actor for a German character. I have a feeling that within next 100 years with more lw adaptations Fritz will played by international actors from every single European country. I don´t know much about Louis Garrel but I hope he´ll do a good job. I´m really exited about James Norton as John Brooke but John is often tossed aside as well. I think we all always bit protective about our favorite characters. Being part of the 50 % Little Women fans who love Laurie and Amy together I´m exited because this film actually might do them justice and as someone who loves anything and everything about Jo and Fritz together I´m a bit worried. Based on the trailer the film seems to highlight Jo´s discomforts with marriage yet Louisa herself wasn´t against marriage as an institution. She was against girls marrying too young or for money and May was not Amy and Louisa was not Jo. There will probably be an uproar if the film is too different than the books. 2017 version got lots of backlash for ruining Amy´s and Laurie´s character arcs.
It is a hard thing, adapting a beloved book to film. They can only be adaptations rather than following the book exactly because of time constraints so creative license must be taken. It’s like that with historical novels — some people just don’t want the existing story to be messed with. We who have read the book several times, both as children and adults, understand how nuanced Little Women is. I wonder sometimes if filmmakers get that. But that’s why they always say (whoever “they” are) that the book is always better than the movie.
At least Amy´s and Meg´s characters seem pretty fleshed. In the 1949 and 1994 films Jo and Fritz work because the films build a base to their relationship. I wanted them to work in the 2017 version but it was all too rushed. I am interested to see how this new version shows Friedrich´s positive effect on Jo´s writing. I don´t know have you heard about it but there is a youtube series called the “attic” and it´s based on little women (very slow budget but good). I thought they did great job with Jo and Fritz. It was set on a modern day and daily volcano was a buzzfeed-like website. Buzzfeed of course is very controversial because it steals content from youtubers and bloggers but I thought it was very clever way to bring the sensational writing to modern day.
I was pointed out that Fritz is in the trailer and indeed he is. Last second in the end Jo is dancing with him. After some digging I did found out that the film is going to handle Jo´s feminist awakening through Beth, Laurie, Fritz and also through Meg. I love that little snippet with Emma/Meg saying that because her dreams are different they are not less valid. That speech Jo gives is quite similar to what Winona said in the 1994 version before she went to New York.
Meg says something similar to Jo in the modern Little Women movie — I am glad Gerwig has included this in her film too because it is an important message and in keeping with Alcott who may not have wanted to marry herself, but did not knock the institution.
Amy March and Sansa Stark would definitely get along. Both women are much more traditionally feminine. Both receive a lot of flak for playing by the rules. Both receive a lot of vitriol for winning the game. Had Greta Gerwig been the writer of Game of Thrones and the majority of other Hollywood movies, I highly doubt that Sansa and all of the other girly girl characters out there would receive so much hate.
I loved Amy in this version! I think it helps that we meet her first as a well-rounded, intelligent woman, rather than a petulant twelve year old. The fact that we’ve already seen the woman she grows up to be means that a lot of her traits and actions when she’s a child are actually endearing (I reread when I was a little older and realised how much I liked Amy). In my opinion, Amy deserves far better than Laurie! He completely settles for her after Jo. There’s a moment in the 1994 film I’ve always hated, where Laurie says, just as Amy knows she will marry rich, he knows he “must be part of the March family” – it suggests he doesn’t actually love Amy, he loves her family, and that she is just the only one to say yes to him.
That is very true, I hadn’t thought of that. The various film adaptations don’t do much to dispel that either.