This book was based on the screen play by
for Columbia Pictures. The movie was released to theaters in 1994; the
video/dvd was available in 2001.
Little Women: A Story of Children
The film (and subsequently Lawlor's
adaptation based on the screenplay) is drawn from Louisa May Alcott's
classic novel about a family of women in Civil War-era New England. The
focus is on the four young girls raised by their mother (Susan
Sarandon) after their father leaves for battle as part of the Union
Army. At the center of the March family is Jo March (Winona Ryder).
Jo's goal is to be a writer -- and is a character based on Alcott
herself. The film also focuses on the stories of her sisters -- Meg
(Trini Alvarado) is portrayed as more conventional while the innocent
Beth (Claire Danes), and the precocious Amy (Kirsten Dunst and Samantha
Mathis, who represent Amy at different ages.) Many years are spanned as
the story progresses. The story follows the family's struggles to
remain strong in the face of tragedies large and small. The Australian
director Gillian Armstrong created a focus in the story that emphasized
the story's feminist elements, particularly in Jo's journey to
- After reading the book, obtain the Little Womenvideo/dvd
for your classroom. View the 1 hour 58 minute video and then compare
and contrast the video with Lawlor's book, and with any one of the
unabridged editions of Alcott's Little Women.
- How did the director focus on the feminist elements?
- How did Lawlor show this same focus on the feminist elements?
- How did this focus differ from Alcott's original text, if it did differ?
- Did the director and actors create any additional twists on the classic story itself?
- How closely did Lawlor's story reflect the screenplay created by Robin Swicord?
- What other comparisons can be made?
© 2002 Laurie Lawlor. All rights reserved.
Text for Curriculum section © 2002 Sharron McElmeel @ McBookwords.
Portions of this text may have been published in earlier publications
by Sharron L. McElmeel and are reprinted here with permission.