Little Women Enthusiast Reviews PBS’s Masterpiece Adaptation

Little Women Enthusiast Reviews PBS’s Masterpiece Adaptation

A little disclaimer: being an aspiring filmmaker, I tend to look at a movie most critically and judge it by its content, presentation, what emotions it evokes, and its takeaway. I do like to be truthful in my views, however I will attempt not to make the following as blunt as my original draft. 😊 Do remember, this is only my personal opinion.

Second disclaimer: this review DOES include spoilers.

Costumes

There were two or three scenes showing the girls in corsets. Firstly, the March sisters did not wear corsets that early into the book. Secondly, the ones used are from the wrong time-period. Meg’s corset was styled from the late 1700s while Jo’s corset was that of a Victorian design. That’s a 100-year gap between the two, and neither were exactly accurate. Furthermore, they were not wearing the corsets correctly. This caused the corset lines to be seen through some of the dresses, also revealing that they were not wearing corset covers.

Regarding the dresses, I’d have to say that most of them would be considered accurate, however, many were ill fitting, which would have been unusual considering that the Marches did their own sewing and tailoring.

In two different scenes, Jo can be seen wearing some sort of odd floral bathrobe, which does not say “1860s.”

In the boating scene, Miss Vonn is wearing a blue, English 1770s styled gown, and even though she was from England, it was established in the book that her family was wealthy, therefore I doubt she would have to wear a 90-year-old dress.

Makeup 

The makeup director seemed to know little of historical beauty. Each of the March sisters were in more modern makeup styles, including mascara, eye liner, lipstick, and blush, especially little Amy. While some of these beauty enhancers had been used subtly in the 1860s, none of the March girls would be wearing it around the house, and especially not to bed. Also, Laurie was for some reason wearing noticeable makeup.

Acting

The main issue with this adaptation perhaps was that the acting was over rehearsed and, in some cases, insincere. I may be quite spoilt by the 1994 version where every single line was performed brilliantly and believably, however good acting should be a main focus in the creation of any film, and one might say that this version fell a little short.

I found some flaws in the portraying of the characters, as well. Timid Beth is too scared to even enter Mr. Lawrence’s front gates, though eventually gets up some courage to go into the house and sit at the piano. She is frightened when Mr. Lawrence tells her to stop, however is smiling without a care in the same scene when this stranger of an old man comes to sit and listen to her play. She doesn’t even appear to be nervous. I know I would be!

The relationship between Jo and Amy seems much harsher than in the book or any other version. One could even say that Amy was plain evil toward Jo and the rest of her family, and much more ill-mannered overall. Her actions, replies, and glares were certainly on the modern level of bad behavior. Furthermore, I found that Jo attacking Amy and slapping her in the face was overly dramatic.

Considering the filmmakers had three entire hours to fill with the book’s contents, I felt that there were not enough moments of true loving connection involving the March family. Marmee appeared as a very independent woman who seemed to know little of her daughters’ true feelings and oft gave poor advice at the wrong times (like in the attic after Amy burns Jo’s manuscript).

Music

The soundtrack trilled of modern breathy humming and ukulele strumming, which stands as an unusual choice for this newest version of Little Women. Perhaps the idea was to be set apart from the traditional orchestral music of historical productions, and if this was indeed their true intention, they were successful. I think that the music would be enjoyable for a different setting, though to pair it with forever famous “Little Women” can detract from the story and draw us away from 1860s New England.

Screenplay 

The opening credits were unusual, however I found that I enjoyed their presentation. On the other hand, the opening scene was quite the contrary. The overall feeling was that we were watching them doing something of a repulsive nature, when really the girl’s main deed was to each snip a lock of hair to send to their father. By the editing and acting, it seemed as though the March sisters were doing this sweet gesture with an odd sense of wickedness. Let me just say that it was strange!

Also, Mr. March is certainly more present than in the book or other film versions, showing him caring for a dying slave in his chaplain’s tent. I think the decision to actually show Mr. March’s life in the army prevents the viewers from feeling how the March girls felt. They couldn’t see their father, spend time with him, or truly understand what he was going through. They were left only to know things by what could be relayed through a pen, and the fact that we were seeing the real picture while they were not seemed to eliminate the viewer’s desire to know, which differed from what the March girls were presently feeling.

I think that it would have been very smart to use two different actresses for the role of Amy to play her different ages, however this version had one actress play both the adolescent Amy and married Amy, which I felt weakened the overall effect and story.

Additionally, there was a “half-undressed” scene that I saw as unnecessary. There were also two different mentions of suicide which I thought was irrational extra drama.

Lastly, I did not admire how all Biblical lessons that are readily available to acquire from Little Women, were excluded, or replaced with feminist views. In the book, when trouble hit the March family, they called upon God for strength. In this new version, the girls drew strength from their “womanhood” and powered through with female independence, instead of harnessing God’s love to continue with their difficult lives as they did in the book.

Flubs and Mistakes 

The green-screening and CGI were quite recognizable.

When Jo runs into the woods to get a stick to rescue Amy, (which seems to be difficult even though she was in a late-winter forest) she returns with the stick and somehow has stabbed her hand and is covered in blood. Additionally, her cheek was also bleeding, while Amy, who was in the water for over a minute and a half, didn’t even catch cold. It takes about 15 minutes for one to get hypothermia and die, so let’s be thankful that Jo didn’t run any further into the woods than she unnecessarily did!

When Jo gets her hair cut, it is styled in a more modern fashion and there were no cut marks.

Beth’s hands were not moving at the piano while it was playing.

In one scene, every single CGI snowflake were falling up.

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In conclusion: I must say that this miniseries does get better with each episode. By the end, there is a good quality to it that can possibly smooth over some of its faults. So. . .

Is this version of “Little Women” an accurate representation of Louisa May Alcott’s wonderful book? No.

Will watching this miniseries before reading the book hurt your reading experience? I think so.

Is this version historically accurate? Not quite.

Overall, is the 1994 Little Women version better? The answer is quite obvious, my friends.

Should you bother to watch this miniseries if you love the book? Yes, but be discerning and keep an eye out for its discrepancies.

Am I being too frank in my review? Probably.

Am I a crazy history loving girl who gets slighted when I meet someone who has never read Little Women? Yes!

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Have you seen this miniseries yet?

If so, what did you think?

Am I being too severe in my truthful opinions again? 😊

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Megan Joy

Longing for Transformation

Longing for Transformation - simplymeganjoy.wordpress.com

There is always something that we wish to change in our lives. It was the transformation from winter to spring that I longed for this year. It seemed to take forever for nature to wake up and be alive again. Every time I felt the bitter cold in my face I asked: where are you spring? Why haven’t you come? For months, mother nature’s heart refused to be warmed.

In one of my favorite films, Little Women (1994), Jo March says that she is “longing for transformation.” I know precisely how she feels. Don’t you?

In each of our lives there are stages, some good and some bad. It’s the bad stages that seem to drone on forever. It feels like there is no end, for we cannot see it ahead.

With whatever someone is going through, a family member sick or in the hospital, financial burdens, continuous frustration, any trial that we may have, are we guaranteed an end? Are we handed a calendar with a big X on it, symbolizing the day of the transformation from bad to good? No. So how can we continue on with a smile? If there is something to bog down our happiness, why be happy?

As Christians, we “know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 KJV. Trials, loss, pain; it’s all temporary. Every moment we live longing for transformation is a moment of building hope and faith in God. The question is, can we push past our heavy burdens and finally reach that transformation? Only with God’s help, we can. The Lord may let trials fall in our path, but he is always there to help us, never forsaking us. He makes sure that we are equipped, so that we may walk through those trials and come out the other side with a smile.

Choose to look at each of your trials as a test. Can you keep faith that God knows best as you wait for that transformation? Can you keep a smile and uplifted heart as you wait for that change? Can you use your situation for Him? Can you trust in the Lord?

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” KJV

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What trials have been in your heart lately?

Do you have any prayer requests? Just let me know and I’ll be happy to pray for you.

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Megan Joy

Top Ten Movies

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Some movies are funny, others are meaningful. Some are full of adventure while others are bursting with songs! Whatever the case, movies are what we look to when we want to explore another world, another time, another place. Films are such a powerful tool. They can make us have a dozen different feelings and let us think about hundreds of different things. Movies take us to the places we want to go when we are confined to our own world. For an hour or two we can live inside a fairytale or voyage to a faraway land. The possibilities are indeed endless. That’s why I love movies that are not only fun to watch at the time, but actually impact my real life, the life that matters. So here is a list of my favorite ten movies beginning with number ten!

(Warning! I may add a few “fun facts” being a crazy fan of all these films. If you don’t find them as fascinating as I did: sorry.)

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10. The Happiest Millionaire

1967 – Starring Fred MacMurray, Tommy Steele, Lesley Ann Warren, John Davidson, and Greer Garson. Music written by the Sherman Brothers.

Set in 1916, this movie is based on the true story of the Drexel-Biddle family of Philadelphia. It received an Academy Award for costume design; more than 3,000 costumes were required for the film. This is also the last Disney film in which Walt Disney had direct involvement, as he died during the production.

9. Mary Poppins

1964 – Starring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, Matthew Garber, Karen Dotrice, Glynis Johns, Ed Wynn, Elsa Lanchester, Arthur Treacher, and Jane Darwell. Music written by the Sherman Brothers.

Adapted from the P.L. Travers’ books, this movie is a Disney classic, receiving 13 Academy Award nominations. It would be hard to find someone who has never heard of Mary Poppins as it is thought of as the greatest Disney film ever made. Walt Disney attempted to buy the story rights from Mrs. Travers back in 1936, but was rejected by the author because she believed no one could live up to her book.

8. The Apple Dumpling Gang

1975 – Starring Don Knotts, Tim Conway, Bill Bixby, Harry Morgan, Susan Clark, Clay O’Brian, Stacy Manning, and Brad Savage. Music written by Shane Tatum.

Another Disney film, this time set during the California Gold Rush. This western comedy has everything one would hope for jam-packed in 100 minutes! There is one scene in which Tim Conway and Don Knotts create the most hilarious improvisational skit, made up completely on the spot! It is said that while shooting the scene, many of the crew members had to leave the soundstage because they were laughing out loud!

7. The Music Man

2003 – Starring Matthew Broderick, Kristen Chenoweth, Victor Garber, Molly Shannon, Cameron Monaghan, Debra Monk, and David Aaron Baker. Music written by Meredith Wilson.

This is the most recent adaptation of the original Broadway musical first performed in the 1950s. There are a few errors in the historical accuracy, but I can overlook it since it’s just so funny! You have to listen to the song lyrics closely to hear the best parts of the movie. The original film included Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, and Ron Howard. If you love musicals, the 2003 version is just for you!

6. The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit

1963 – Starring Dean Jones, Kurt Russell, Diane Baker, Ellen Janov, Fred Clark, and Morey Amsterdam. Music written by George Bruns.

Based on the 1955 book by Eric Hatch, this film is especially for horse-lovers! It’s about a girl who really wants a horse and gets one (I know, cliché and frustrating for us horseless horse-lovers). Dean Jones, my all-time favorite male actor, plays the girl’s horse-allergy inflicted father! Jones was known for his pretend sneezing and later used that skill in 1965 for Disney’s That Darn Cat, co-starring Haley Mills.

5. Just Around the Corner

1938 – Starring Shirley Temple, Bill Robinson, Charles Farrell, Franklin Pangborn, Joan Davis, Benny Bartlett, and Claude Billingwater. Music written by Harold Spina.

This is my favorite Shirley Temple film. Set during the Great Depression, Shirley Temple plays the daughter of a wealthy architect. She comes home from her girls’ school to find that her penthouse is now inhabited by another family, and her new apartment is now the basement. The slump in business has caused her father to lose nearly everything. In one scene, Shirley gives a little dog a bath. In reality, it’s her own dog, Ching Ching! Shirley charged the studio a total of $7.50 to use her dog in the film as an extra. She was certainly a little business woman!

4. Hot Lead and Cold Feet

1978 – Starring Jim Dale, Don Knotts, Darren McGavin, Karen Valentine, John Williams, Michael Sharrett, and Debbie Lytton. Music written by Buddy Baker.

This Disney western tale has one of the best casts ever! Jim Dale stars as all three main characters, Eli, Wild Billy, and Old Man Bloodshy! It’s the story of two twins racing to win their (supposedly deceased) father’s inheritance. Don Knotts and Darren McGavin appear together again in this film, the first time being in No Deposit, No Return, 1976. One of the two trains used in this film is today on display in Disneyland in California.

3. The Secret Garden

1993 – Starring Kate Maberly, Maggie Smith, Heydon Prowse, Andrew Knott, John Lynch, and Laura Crossely. Music written by Zbigniew Preisner.

Adapted from the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic, this film holds some of the most magical scenes! The costumes, the acting, the cast, the story, the score, and the cinematography are put together perfectly to create the chronicles of Mary Lennox, an orphaned girl sent to live in her uncle’s mansion in Victorian England. She soon becomes aware of her crippled cousin, steals a mysterious garden, and combines the two in order to bring happiness back to Misselthwaite Manor.

2. Little Women

1994 – Starring Winona Ryder, Trini Alvarado, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Christian Bale, Gabriel Byrne, Eric Stoltz, and Mary Wickes. Music written by Thomas Newman.

Taking place during and after the American Civil War, this is the story based upon the Louisa May Alcott book, Little Women. The four March sisters are growing up without their father who has gone off to war. The enchanting and heart-warming/wrenching tale brings history to life, causing the viewer to embrace the March sisters’ world and all its plights. This movie holds the most powerful score, it melts my heart whenever I hear it.

1. Anne of Green Gables

1985 – Starring Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, Richard Farnsworth, Jonathan Crombie, Schuyler Grant, Patricia Hamilton, and Marilyn Lightstone. Music written by Hagood Hardy.

Here we are: #1! This one wasn’t too hard to guess, was it? Anne of Green Gables and its sequel were based on a book series by Lucy Maud Montgomery. For those who don’t know the plot, Anne, a red-haired and ambitious orphan is accidentally sent to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert on Prince Edward Island. Even after she creates much havoc and breaks a slate over a boy’s head at school, the Cuthberts allow her to stay for good. The movie continues until Anne is sixteen, and later picks up in the sequel in 1987. This movie has been my favorite ever since I first watched it many years ago. It transports special feelings right out of the screen and into my heart, letting me enter into the magical world of Anne. It has changed the way I think about the past, present, and future, and will forever be something special that I want to share with everyone!

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What are your favorite movies?

Who is your favorite actor?

Which of the movies on my list have you heard of/watched before?

Megan Joy

Starlight Blogger Award

Starlight Blogger Award 2 - Simply Megan Joy Blog

Hello again! I’m really excited to share the Starlight Blogger Award because it’s just so cool. It is passed between bloggers who wish to inspire others and who are a light to their readers. I actually hadn’t ever heard of this award before Megan, from Invisible World nominated me! She has such an inspiring blog filled with fictional writings and is even about to begin a writing challenge called “Flash Fiction!” Go check out her blog!

So, for this award, the first three questions to answer are passed along with the award, and the last three questions are made up by the nominator. On to the questions!

1) If you could describe or picture your inner soul, how would you describe it?

What a difficult question! This is certainly nothing I’ve ever thought about before. I would say that if I could describe my inner soul, the words I would use would be: old fashioned, kindred spirit, dreaming enthusiast, and just simply me.

2) What are you working on right now?

At the moment, I have a few projects going. I am in the midst of writing a Medieval novel, knitting a scarf, renovating an old chicken coop into a writing space/movie set, creating a homeschool portfolio to sum up my last year of high school, and searching for the perfect summer job. **haha**

3) What is your creative dream project?

One of my creative dream projects is to make an hour-long movie of some sort, and send it to a film contest. Two other dreams of mine are to sew the perfect 1860s ballgown and to publish at least 10 books.

4) What activities or places inspire you?

The activities that inspire me are; writing, walking, reading, playing a musical instrument, people watching, car rides, and baking. The places that inspire me are; windows, parks, forests, big cities, beaches, attics, Europe (never been there yet), and old buildings.

5) If you could go anywhere in the world for free, where would you go?

If I could go anywhere in the world for free, I think the first place I would go would be Ireland. The second place would be Japan, and the third, South Africa.

6) Has a book/movie ever moved you so deeply that you carry a piece of it with you? (You had an epiphany while read/watching or the theme seemed to encapsulate your life.)

I love this question! The answer is definitely yes! The Anne of Green Gables books and the 1980s movies have seemed to capture my heart from the first time I saw them. I have actually memorized the opening scene of the first movie by heart, which is the reading of Lord Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shallot.” I would recite it now for you but it would take much too long. Also, the Little Women book and 1994 movie will forever dwell in a special place in my heart. Both Anne of Green Gables and Little Women are just the two most wondrous things in my mind! They can make one forget their own troubles for a little while and invest in the character’s, and create an imagery full of everything lovely!

Here are the rules for this award:

1.     Thank the nominator and add a link to their blog in your post.

2.     Answer Caroline’s 3 original questions as well as the three new questions your nominator has given you.

3.     Choose your 6 favorite bloggers and notify them of their nomination! When choosing your nominees, think of “the light emanating from the stars” – the blogger who truly touches your soul with their work, the ones who are a light to you – a true Starlight Blogger.

4) Include the logo of the award in your blog post. Also, never alter the logo photo or change the three original questions.

Starlight Blogger Award 05/30/2015

The Nominees:

Ruffles and Grace

Minnie Muse

Reveries

Scattered Journal Pages

Lauren’s Notebook

A Farm Girl’s Life

Questions to Answer:

Original Questions

1) If you could describe or picture your inner soul, how would you describe it?

2) What are you working on right now?

3) What is your creative dream project?

My questions for you:

4) If you were designing the perfect house, what would it look like?

5) Would you rather be inspired or be inspiring?

6) What is the most inspirational food to you?

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I’d love to here anyone’s answers to these questions in the comments!

Megan Joy

On the Waterfront // 1863 Camp Dress

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This weekend, I attended my first Civil War reenactment of the year! The three-day event was filled with dresses, tents, campfires, and soldiers. There were two mock battles fought and many drills performed. My brother even joined the Union army and marched into the battles this year! I was so pleased when he came out alive. (Just a note, no one was using real bullets, of course; just blanks.)

After the last battle, my sister and I were able to sneak down to the waterfront and snap a few photos.

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This is my new camp dress that I bought from one of the sutlers at the reenactment. Sadly, the first time I wore it, it was torn while getting out of a truck! It’s only a minor rip and I can sew it up, so it’s not too bad.

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I found a stone that looked like a nugget of gold! It wasn’t, though.

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Now, I’d like to share a story that occurred after the event had concluded!

After leaving the reenactment, we stopped at the nearest mini mart for a snack to eat on the way home. We were still dressed in our Civil War attire, but weren’t too concerned about the funny looks we might get. To our amazement, a Confederate soldier entered the store just as we did, and we laughed to see each other. After departing the store with a snack and a cheerful story to tell later, we never could have imagined what would be added to our tale! As we neared our truck, we noticed that something was dangling from beneath the engine. Upon opening the hood and taking a closer look, we noticed that the fan belt had frayed and half of it had dislocated itself from the rest. When trying to remove the loose piece, we realized that it was stuck, tangled, and in need of some brute force to get it free. My brother, dressed as a Union soldier, crawled underneath the truck, and attempted to untangle the mess but to no avail. At the same moment, the same Confederate soldier was then exiting the store and noticed our troubles. He offered his help and suggestions to dislodge the piece and managed to pry it a little looser.

Meanwhile, another Confederate had parked just ahead, and when sighting our dismay, came to help. Seeing that more help had arrived, we thanked the first Confederate and he drove off on his long ride home. Now, the second Confederate was able to pull the belt free with my brother helping from beneath the truck, while my sister and I watched from the side. This task was completed. Now, the next question: could the truck be driven the long ride home with half of the fan belt? Probably not. As we discussed this, two more Confederates pulled up and asked if they could help! They helpfully told us of four auto stores nearby, and offered directions to them. After a game plan had been settled, we thanked all the Confederates and we dispersed on our own separate ways. It had been a joyful reunion between both strangers and “enemies” – Yankees and Rebels. It was surprising to realize that four Confederate soldiers would be so gracious as to help a Union clad solider when just hours before, they were in battle against each other! It proves that there are good people in the world, and found in the most unusual circumstances, too!

So, to carry on with the story, we had to drive to several mechanical stores until we found someone willing to help us so near to closing time. Once our truck was accepted (I sound like we were trying to get it into college!) and was pulled into our last resort garage, we were asked to wait while the mechanics replaced the belt. Then we realized that the snack we had bought in the first place was now five feet high on the car lifter thing in the garage! We had spotted a Wendy’s down the block earlier and decided that some of us could eat there. We assembled a parade and marched down the busy street in fashion! We received many a strange look once inside, but smiled and had a grand old time. Soon the truck was fixed and we headed home with a new experience to keep under our hats!

The moral of this story: “When in doubt, ask a Confederate!”

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dress // sulter tent

bonnet // sulter tent

belt // handmade

bag // thrifted

shoes // thrifted

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Have you ever been to a Civil War reenactment?

Can you relate to any part of this story?

I challenge anyone to walk into a Wendy’s, wearing an historical outfit, and order fries to go! If you do, don’t forget to take a photo, and send it to me via email! The first person to capitalize on this awesome challenge before the end of May will win a $10 Wendy’s gift card!

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Megan Joy

Quote of the Week // 10th Week

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This quote was taken from Alcott’s 1868 book, Little Women. I received a beautiful edition of the book “Little Women” as a gift last year and I can’t wait to read it! I have so many wonderful books all lined up to read, but it seems that I rarely have time to delve into a book anymore. This month I am trying to make extra time for reading and plan to make even more time this summer, “The summer of reading!”     

Here is the quote in context!

“As she lifted the curtain to look out into the dreary night, the moon broke suddenly from behind the clouds and shone upon her like a bright, benignant face, which seemed to whisper in the silence, Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.”

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Are you fond of this quote?

Have you ever read Little Women?

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Megan Joy