The Little Women, a short story by Charlotte Bronte, is considered the greatest novel written in English, with over four million copies published in more than eighty languages. It has a worldwide following and is currently widely reprinted. It was a bestseller upon its initial publication and remains in print today, often making its way into high-class art books. The movie adaptation of the story was made in 1903 and starred Marian Anderson as the titular "Little Woman."
Movies, particularly those of this genre, are often created around the literary works of great minds, especially those of famous writers. The Little Women, at first glance, seems to be nothing more than a standard story about a household, and indeed it can be a standard tale, based on a historical incident. In fact, however, the story is steeped in symbolism and a number of powerful elements. The main characters in the story are Alice, the ten-year-old daughter of Mrs. Radcliffe; the motherless Jane; her daughter, Mrs. Spencer; and the kindly Mr. Symes.
The character of Emily Bronte was born in the sixteenth century, and her story was first written down in the early nineteenth century. Like the other characters in the story, Emily is conceived by a sperm from Mr. Symes' deceased wife, in the form of a child called Emma. When the child, who bears the name of the late Mrs. Symes, grows up, she becomes the Little Woman.
In addition to being drawn from the direct background of history, the heroine, Emily, also uses this as a story about what is possible. Much of the movie is about the differences between good and evil, and about the difference between loving and unloving parents. At the end of the story, the Little Woman does indeed become the Mistress of Death, but it is not merely a curse as portrayed in the story. She does not simply drive the family car, but instead uses it to get people to meet their deaths and to bring them closer to the Pure Good, creating a world where people will know that death is but a stepping stone towards eternal life.
As a movie, the Little Women has many more layers than its surface appearance might imply. It presents the inner lives of the characters, and how each person defines their own nature. Emily is a very sweet and gracious woman, but she is also cruel. Her mother has given her a lot, but she has also taken away a lot, and Emily is looking for ways to take everything away from her.
The part played by Marian Anderson, in the movie, is a nod to the original cast, with Evelyn Bassett as Miss Emily, and Dorothy Parker as Miss Emma. They all have great roles, and it is a joy to see their similar interpretations in the movie. Even though they are an older generation, their roles seem more real, and the characters carry an air of warmth and truth.
There are many great performances throughout the movie, and everyone who plays a part is very well done. While some of the younger children appear very young, they have been able to develop into very believable young women.
The Little Women is a great movie, and many of the little details in the movie are symbolic and true to life. Even the names of the characters were chosen based on the personalities of the authors, or the possible meaning behind the names. If you find yourself in the mood for a lighthearted time, and a bit of history, I would recommend that you watch this movie.