By Caitlin Kelly
I may be the only person in the U.S., certainly the only woman, who has never read the classic of American literature, Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, published in 1868 and 1869.
It’s the story of the March family, living in Massachusetts, and their daughters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy.
I won’t synopsize it here, but recently saw two very different filmed versions of it, the film by New York director and actor Greta Gerwig and the BBC made-for-TV 3-part series, written by Heidi Thomas.
No wonder it’s so good — Thomas is the writer of the phenomenally popular BBC series Call The Midwife, another of my favorites.
The Gerwig version stars Irish actor Saoirse Ronan as Jo, whose ambition to be a published author are both emotional and practical — her family needs the income. She’s very high energy, sometimes exhaustingly so. In the BBC version, Maya Hawke — daughter of terrific actor Ethan Hawke — plays Jo, in a very different way. She’s calmer, quieter, driven but more complex.
The BBC version really won my heart, with beautiful cinematography and a cooler affect. It’s fascinating to see how differently two female writers and directors handle the same source material and what a difference casting can make.
Have you seen either version?
Which did you prefer?