Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was originally published in 1868 and 1869 (as two volumes). Since then, the narrative of the March sisters has been consumed by generations—grandmothers and granddaughters alike have read the book (as well as grandfathers and grandsons, in the dark of night when no one could see them). It’s one of those publications that has stood the test of time like Romeo and Juliet, Pride and Prejudice, Slaughterhouse-Five, or People magazine (somehow true). Alcott’s novel has been adapted into countless stage plays and films, so many in fact, that the story itself could be called stale.
Before director Greta Gerwig’s 2019 remake, the idea of another Little Women film was equatable to another spin on A Christmas Carol (sorry Robert Zemeckis). This might be why the Academy snubbed Gerwig in the Best Director category: they just assumed the film wrote and directed itself. It didn’t. Gerwig took something everyone knew and made it her own. Scratch that, she took something everyone thought they knew and modernized it—she made it accessible to Generations X, Y, and Z.
The masterful reimagining of Alcott’s classic novel stays faithful to its source material while tweaking all of the constipated romanticism. It was pulled off with an impeccable amount of focus and foresight. Gerwig was an apex on set, while also being pregnant (but wearing baggy clothes so no one would know). She is a humble mad scientist (in the best way). The entire film feels like a nuclear bomb of kick-ass femininity, one not possible without Gerwig. Little Women itself is being aptly recognized with a nomination in the Best Motion Picture category at the 92nd Academy Awards. With that in mind, here are all of the ways Gerwig modernized Little Women.