Little Women (2019) – Own Your Story
Little Women – Own your story, a film by Greta Gerwig. This following essay of sort is purely about oh Greta moments!!
Greta’s capability of capturing time and love in every story she writes is mesmerizing. She distinguishes time line by using color palette of 1861 (past) with bright, warm and sunny colors which gives the feeling of a pumping heart. And 1868 (future/original) with cold, blue and dark colors representing the removal of the essence of the heart, the March family from Jo. The difference lies that both these timelines move forward in time rather than jumping from one to another. (Except for some Academy members who didn’t quite understand it but clearly understood ‘Dunkirk’).
Timotheè, Saoirse, Emma, Meryl, Laura, Florence and Eliza are all equally beautiful and energetic. Alexandre Desplat has created a beautiful score. Greta has put so much love and warmth in the film which is flowing constantly and that feeling never dies. It is whole heartedly Greta’s film as she has converted the text into her personal experience of reading it. “Little Women” is about writing your own perspective. It shows the harsh reality of when the only option for women to own anything was to marry rich. It also emphasizes on “changing the ending”.
By giving Jo, both the book and the family, suggests one’s personal perspective. A thing to notice here is how each of these women have opinions on money, their own rights, love and choosing the way of life but they also have a space at the March house to talk about it. The relationship between siblings is so real. That feeling of hating them and loving them but also forgiving when they’ve hurt the most. The scene where Jo forgives Amy when she comes back home married to Laurie crushed me but I also understand the emotion behind it. The context behind every character’s doing and saying is given which makes one empathize with them all.
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The scene with the Pickwick club, Jo and Laurie’s dance, the breakfast scene and even the sadder ones with Beth’s death or her playing the piano, Jo’s rejection have so much past and filled with feeling and it only works because of writing and chemistry which is evident. It also goes to their personal bonds that on screen reflect a sense of comfort and closeness. In real time, watching I wanted to be a part of the March family in that moment because they filled life with hope and love and in other moments hugging them through their sadder moments. And that is the brilliance of storytelling.
My favorite scene is Jo and Laurie’s dance because that captures the essence of their relationship in one of the wonderful ways. The opening and closing shot in “Little Women” is same but with different feelings. In the opening shot we see Jo nervously standing outside the publishing office and in the last we see her get her first copy of little women. Greta and DP Yorick shot the film on film. This advice was given by Steven Spielberg. It’s so perfect as the richness of life leaps out of a beautiful painting scene by scene.
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Jo is the symbol of ambition. Amy of passion. Meg of family and Beth of hope. And Marmee protects. The March family represents the importance of love warmth in every family. Laurie is a secret March sister. He is the eye of the audience. Adoring them and wanting to live in their world just like us. There is so much connection due to the human nature that shows in every one of these characters. Example – Jo has always wanted to write and pursue her career but in the end you see her feeling terribly alone and admitting that one needs love. Amy on the other hand also has strong desires for her art and admits she would have to marry rich with no option as expressed in her monologue. Meg has always wanted a family but she has spending problems.
Greta synchronized two scenes from both timelines when Beth gets sick and in the 1868 where she eventually dies. Both those sequences are masterful as it creates shock in the first one but eventually when repeated movement by movement, you can feel the dread knowing Beth is no more. Watching her films is knowing she has created all these people by herself and given them a life, words, feelings and emotions and that’s the joy of it. When Amy hugs Laurie in Paris, you feel the familiarity, when Jo furiously sits and writes in the attic, you feel the passion, and I can describe the emotion behind any of the sequences. There is so much purity to pick and endlessly talk about.
The experience of her films like is alike to breathing time. Jaqueline Durran has wonderfully created the costumes by giving a subtle personality to each character and customizing the color. The production design is masterful. Every room, plate, curtains, furniture is a representation of that space. The designer re-created Louisa’s house in Massachusetts where she wrote “Little Women”. The thing that makes this special is also that Greta has meaning and details behind every word, look, movement and she has a great deal to say about it while creating a visually expressive story.