Thursday, February 21, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - More Little Women Movie Adaptations

My plan of luring the younger girls into pages Louisa May Alcott's classic novel were thwarted yesterday by G (age 19) popping in for a visit with her sisters in the afternoon.  Not that I wasn't happy to see her, but her arrival did leave Little Women sitting, still unread, on the table.

E (age 14) suggested instead, that the girls watch Little Women again, so G could share in the story too.  G was uncertain at first, when she heard how much the girls had cried watching the 1994, Susan Sarandon/Winona Ryder film.

But E had seen a modern adaptation on Amazon...

... and convinced me to rent it for them.  They were pretty confident a modern telling of the story wouldn't be as sad.  In truth, we'll never know, because the whole thing was so bad (flash forwards and back, bad acting, overly angry characters, stupid homechool references, and a general gutting of the story) that we turned it off about fifteen minutes in.  Which I guess was sad, because I could see a few elements from the original story - the girls' acting out Pilgrim's Progress, the March parents' desire to encourage character development and improvement in their daughters - in this version, that were missing, or underplayed in the older adaption.

The girls settled instead on a three episode, 2018, Masterpiece Theater edition from PBS, with Angelia Lansbury playing old Aunt March, and Emily Watson as Marmee, available on Amazon Prime.

It expands the story, but keeps the spirit, and is beautifully filmed and acted.  The mother's character has been modified somewhat (which I'm not sure if I cared for or not), focusing in on her feelings as an empty-nester. The girls still cried, but for Marmee being left alone, instead of for Beth "going on ahead" this time.

I think my favorite of the three is still the Susan Sarandon version.  Maybe that's just because it's the first adaptation of the book I remember watching.  My mother tells me the she still prefers the one with Katherine Hepburn.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Grace said...

My favorite version is from the 30’s or 40’s, with June Allyson as Jo and Elizabeth Taylor as Amy. Can’t remember who played the other characters, but it’s charming.

Ticia said...

The Masterpiece Theater version is the one we watched this January after reading the book. I really like both versions, they have different things going for them.