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Little Women: A Classic Brought to Life

By Samara Caplan, CARE Canada's Content Marketing Officer

Little Women a novel by Louisa May Alcott was originally released in 1868. The story has been transferred to the screen multiple times, the most recent being Greta Gerwig's adaptation (You may have seen it in our top movies to watch this holiday season) that hit theatres on December 25th.

I had been counting down the days until I could see this movie. Little Women was one of my favourite books as a child and as an adult the story continues to inspire me. With such a powerful female team leading the film including Gerwig's direction (who got an Oscar nomination for her directorial debut, Lady Bird in 2017), Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep and Saoirse Ronan (among many others) it promised to be something truly amazing.

If you didn't read the book growing up, Little Women tells the story of the March sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy - and how they navigate a world where being a woman offers little opportunity. Jo leads the story - she does the most challenging of female norms and is focused on becoming a successful writer who makes her own way in the world. The story moves back and forth in time between the sisters' present day, to moments throughout their youth. As a result the audience sees each member of the March clan grow and develop from young girls into women.

Jo has often been referenced as a literary feminist icon - and most who read the book would probably admit that she was the character they wanted to be most like. One thing that is a bit different about Gerwig's adaption (and helps to keep this story relevant over a century and a half later) is her portrayal of the three other March sisters. They are all different, with their own passions and dreams but are all still strong female characters challenging the world in their own way. This approach gives the characters depth and dynamism. Whether she wants family, marriage, kids or a career - there's no wrong way for a woman to be a woman. Walking away from this film audiences will not only relate to Jo, but Meg, Beth and Amy as well.

The film is full of powerful moments. One that stuck with me was when Amy explained to a male childhood friend what marriage meant to a woman of the time:

" ...as a woman there is no way for me to make my own money. Not enough to earn a living, or to support my family. And if I had my own money, which I don't, that money would belong to my husband the moment we got married and if we had children they would be his, not mine. They would be his property, so  don't sit there and tell me that marriage isn't an economic proposition because it is. It may not be for you but it most certainly is for me."

These facts may no longer be true for many of us in Canada, but there are still women around the world for whom this is a very true reality. Though much time has passed since the story of Little Women first came into the world, it continues to prove its importance and relevance in modern day.

Take your friends, your parents, your kids and anyone else you can to see the newest adaption of this classic tale. Outside of the beautifully told story, you will leave the theatre inspired to continue the fight for women's rights that began so long ago. You will fall in love with the powerful women that are the March sisters and the women who brought their story to life on screen.

Have you seen little women? Let us know what your thoughts were. Find us here on Facebook and Twitter.