Greta Gerwig is masterly at art of revisionism

Greta Gerwig is masterly at art of revisionism

Little Women
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Meryl Streep
Director: Greta Gerwig
Language: English (U/A)
Rating: 3.5

Revisionism is an art, and Greta Gerwig has proven to be one of its finer practitioners with her new film ‘Little Women’. Louisa May Alcott’s novel of the same name, published in the decade after the American Civil War, has been adapted many times for the screen, but never like this. Every adaptation has revised the story, right from the 1918 silent version, which came out when many people from the time of the war and the writing of the novel were still around.

Gerwig’s revision is certain to be the boldest of the lot, giving the story a meta-narrative spin. She boldly chooses a non-linear style, which allows for the mirroring of scenes from different points in the novel.

The essentials of the story are the same as in the novel and other adaptations, with the ‘Little Women’ of the title being the four March sisters.

Starting there, Gerwig goes on to diagnose the economic and social straight-jacketing of women in 19th century America. The women seem far more conscious of the economic aspects of being wives and writers than their alter egos in the novel.

Gerwig’s biggest innovation, however, is with the character of Jo March. Jo the writer is an inspiration to hundreds of writers who have read Alcott’s novel, but Gerwig makes her the novelist’s own doppelganger.

This is not just a twist to appeal to the women of today, but one that gives us an insight into the life of a woman writer then —  a commentary that could not have come from Alcott, given her circumstances, even if she wanted to make it. Gerwig gets the chance and she takes it.

And this makes Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’ a film to look out for in the under-appreciated art of revisionism.

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