Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Savoring Sunday
And My Favorite Adaptation of Little Women

This past Sunday was a lovely day. It was overcast and cloudy, and even though the temperatures are still too hot for my liking, the cloudy skies made for a perfectly cozy day.

I belong to a wonderful online community of women, Hearth and Home, and our founder, Heather, is encouraging us to savor these October Sundays, and share about it. Savoring Sunday has been a long standing tradition in our home, so it wasn't hard for me to participate or come up with a plan for what to do, but I do appreciate the reminder to be especially mindful now that we're into October and the scenery is changing.

So on Sunday I put together one of our family favorites, Grammy's Cabbage Soup, early in the day and let it hang out on the back burner most of the morning and into the early afternoon. Thanks to Heather's inspiration as well, I had already "Blessed The Weekend" on the previous Friday, and as such, had a full tin of snickerdoodles to carry us through as a treat. I don't know what it is about this cookie, but I always associate it with autumn and make them around this time every year. Then I made up a cozy spot on the couch, gathered my cross stitching and craft supplies, and set upon deciding what to watch.

I've been working my way though a stack of movies that we watch annually, but on this particular day I decided I wanted to watch a period piece and that led me to Little Women. I first watched the most recent adaptation because I do truly love Saoirse Ronan's portrayal of this most beloved character, but once I was finished, the PBS Masterpiece version came up as a suggestion and since it had been awhile since I'd watched it, I made that my next choice.  Before this, the 1994 adaptation with Winona Ryder had long been my favorite. And while it still remains dearer to my heart than the most recent offering, after watching this adaptation again, it may now have won my heart.

To begin with, I'm not sure there has ever been a more perfect casting than that of Maya Hawke as Jo, and I was blown away when I discovered that this film was her acting debut. Saoirse Ronan did an excellent job in the most recent adaptation, but there is just something about Maya's offering that is more balanced. Just the right amount of grit and gumption, coupled with the soulful and sweet. And speaking of Jo, there  casting of  Jonah Hauer-King in the role of Laurie, was, in a word, perfection! The casting of Laurie is one I have long been critical of, second only to Amy, which we'll get to in a minute. But I have to say that one of my great disappointments with Greta Gerwig's offering was the choice of Timothée Chalamet to portray Laurie. Maybe in a few years when he's aged a little, but at least in my opinion, he looked like the "little" boy next door.

As for the casting of Marmee, once again I believe the PBS version hit the nail on the head with Emily Watson. In a discussion of the various versions of Little Women at Hearth and Home, one of the other members commented that she didn't care for the 1994 adaptation because it just felt like Winona Ryder pretending to be Jo. But I actually found that portrayal a bit more believable than Susan Sarandon, and most definitely, Laura Dern, as Marmee! Emily Watson, who I have loved since Miss Potter, was perfectly cast in this role and brought new life to the character, as well. Her presence at Beth's bedside while she lay dying was particularly moving.

And while we're on the subject of Watson, another horrible casting in the most recent version was that of Emma Watson as Meg. And don't get me wrong, I love Emma Watson! I just don't think period pieces are her forte, or perhaps it was just this particular piece. I absolutely loved her in all of the Harry Potter movies and especially in Beauty and the Beast, talk about making a character step off of the pages! But as Meg, not so much. Perhaps it was the writing, but she seemed merely a shadow behind Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh. In contrast, I found Willa Fitzgerald's portray of Meg in the PBS Masterpiece adaptation, divine!

And then there is Beth (pictured below, right). With Beth's character I'm not sure I'd say I've ever disliked the portrayal or found it miscast, at least, not in the three versions I've mentioned. But I'm going to be honest here and say that the three adaptations I've mentioned are the only ones I've ever watched.  I just can't abide the thought of Katherine Hepburn as Jo or Elizabeth Taylor as a blonde Amy, but to be fair, I probably should at least watch them? But with the PBS Masterpiece version, one of the things that I did love was how much the they all looked like they really could be sisters. I mean, just look at that picture at the top of this post? If you didn't know it was a movie still you could honestly believe they were a family.

In this adaptation, the writer's gave the character of Beth more depth. No longer just the sickly sister withering away in the shadows, but a beautifully talented musician who struggles with social anxiety and is afraid to leave home. As someone who struggles with this on varying levels myself, this endeared her to me even more. Annes Elwy did a beautiful job in this role!

And as for Amy, who is portrayed by Kathryn Newton (pictured in the group photo at top), I will say this. The four sisters looked close enough in age that I found Amy's brattiness a little easier to bear and a bit more believable. Prior to this I had always felt that the 1994 adaptation got it right when they cast two actresses in the role of Amy, but Kathryn is the only actress who made the portrayal of Amy almost seamless.

And finally, Aunt Jo, and again I am going to tip my hat once again to PBS and Angela Lansbury. While I did fine Meryl Streep's portrayal amusing, something about her just didn't set right with me. I also loved Mary Wickes portrayal in the 1994 version. She has been a favorite of mine, especially as the busy body housekeeper in White Christmas. Prior to this role I wasn't much of a Lansbury, fan, but as Aunt Jo I thought she did an excellent job!

I'm sure many of you have read or watched Little Women and you probably have a favorite adaptation, too. But if you've never seen this particular version I would encourage you to watch it. If you have Prime it's available to watch at no additional cost. I'd love to hear your take on your favorite adaptation, character? This is at the top of my list of favorite books and movies and I love discussing it! Pour yourself a cup of tea and join me in the conversation, won't you?


Anonymous said...

I've made your Grammy's Cabbage soup once before (I think it was with cabbage and pork?) and I've wanted to make it again, but couldn't find it on the blog. If possible, could you direct me to where it's posted, or repost of it's not too much trouble?


Anonymous said...

Oh, and the 1994 version of Little Women is my favorite version! I love it so much, and the soundtrack is always a must play for me during the fall season.


Kimberly Lottman said...

I'll get it reposted for you asap! And I DO love the soundtrack for the 1994 version of LW! <3

Kimberly Lottman said...

Here you go, Pam! It was buried in a Winter Solstice post! :)https://www.kimberlylottman.com/2019/12/plans-for-winter-solstice-part-2.html

e l i z a b e t h ♥ said...

Hi there! I've just recently rediscovered your blog after reading it early last year, I believe. (maybe before that?) Anyway, I am finding it ever so delightful and am loving all of your cozy posts.

Little Women is a favorite of mine and I love how you said that the PBS version had actresses that looked like they could actually be sisters! I always this that adds something realistic and special to a movie...my two favorite versions are the 1994 version because it's the one I grew up watching and I dearly love the feel and portrayal, along with the PBS version, which I fell in love with a couple years ago. The newest version just didn't cut it for me; I felt like there was no chemistry whatsoever with the actors and such and it just didn't flow well, in my opinion.

Little Women is something I watch every autumn or winter...along with some other favorites, such as Anne of Green Gables and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Such cozy vibes!

Looking forward to your next post...♥

Kimberly Lottman said...

Hello, Elizabeth! I'm so glad you've found your way back here. I love that you referred to my posts as "cozy", for that is truly the feeling I hope this space evokes! And than you for reminding me of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society! I've seen it once, but I'm adding it to my November list! :)