I'm not sure if everyone felt it, but for me there was a sense of celebration on our yard on Saturday evening. Obviously we were celebrating the final screening of an unusual season - one in which the singular pleasure of coming together to share the movie watching experience was challenged by this awful virus, but in our case, overcome. We thank all of you who made Saturday our biggest turnout of the summer.
In addition, we were celebrating Linda's efforts on behalf of I Support The Girls, and the tremendous and much appreciated support from myriad friends, in the giving of time, and labor, and on Saturday in the giving of donations of essential women's supplies. The huge pile of contributions received on Saturday, added to the huge number of Amazon packages she received was overwhelming, and Linda offers her heartfelt thanks to you all.
For all this, it was lucky that we had a movie which was worthy of the celebratory mood. Little Women was a feel-good movie for a time that needs something to feel good about. But this was not just a typical strumming of the heartstrings in pursuit of an emotional response. This is a very smart movie. I have said before how the creative use of a non-linear timeline had impressed me on first viewing, but I still had to check myself as the movie opened, and confusion sunk in. Had I, once again, allowed the DVD to start somewhere in the middle ? But at almost exactly the same point as my last viewing, everything clicked into place. From that point, the movie experience changed from the traditional story-telling to a sense of dipping into a family album and finding warmly remembered moments.
In interviews, Greta Gerwig has said that she felt sad that in the original storyline, as the girls grow into adults they go their separate ways, and never recapture the intense sisterhood they shared when younger. This reordering allows us to better understand how their adult lives reflect the way in which the sisters helped each other deal with their individual flaws (vanity, hot-headedness, materialism and timidity). This is particularly the case with Jo. Our friend and Film Club regular Jannean told me that when reading the book as a young girl, she simply could not understand why Jo would choose not to marry Laurie. But now in this timeline, Jo's character as a strong, independent, free-thinking women is laid out in advance of the proposal, and her decision makes perfect sense.
The screenplay also brings a sense of modernity to the role of women in society which may not have existed in the book. Whilst Alcott's four young women in the novel are well-drawn and by no means are any of them wallflowers, Gerwig shines a spotlight on archaic attitudes like marriage as an economic arrangement, women at the bargaining table, and even the role of the woman in a 19th century novel. It's clear that this was very much a labour of love for Gerwig, where every character is treated with both respect and affection, as is the story itself. When it was first published, Little Women was hugely popular, largely because of the realism of the characters lives, but also because it hinted at a non-traditional model for womanhood. Gerwig's treatment respects that approach and extends it by applying it to issues facing women today.
It was my favourite movie of Oscar season, and I enjoyed it even more on Saturday. What a lovely way to sign off for the summer.