A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Little Women is an adaptation of the book by Louisa May Alcott. In an intense moment, beloved sister Beth becomes dangerously ill, recovers, but eventually dies young in a very sad sequence. The youngest sister, Amy, falls through the ice while skating but is pulled to safety. Kids will learn a bit about the time period during and just after the Civil War and will get to know an amazing group of role models in the March family. They are supportive of one another and wonderful members of the community, even giving away their Christmas dinner to those less fortunate.
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What's the story?
LITTLE WOMEN is not so much about what happens to the March family as about who they are. Their parties, meals, chores, games, romances are hardly high drama but, through individual personalities, they illustrate the highest human values: love, family, selflessness, loyalty. Known to be innovative thinkers, the Marches -- as one character observes -- had "views."
Is it any good?
Acting upon those views in day-to-day life, the girls capture our attention and, more, stir our souls. Excited about such holiday luxuries as a bit of butter and an orange, they give them up to feed an even poorer family. The gifted Claire Danes delivers a touching, very real, portrayal as Beth. When she dies, it's painful and viewers share the family's loss. Likewise, the climactic reunion between Jo and her professor is deeply moving. Rarely is such a low-key movie so uplifting. Meaning springs from the unaffected performances, the believable tensions among the sisters, the realistic contrast of their varied goals, and forthright, simple statements of authentically virtuous character. Lovely settings frame the story perfectly.
No pretense is made about the purity of the world in which the Marches live. As women, they confront and cope with second-class status, especially the free-thinking Jo. But society's flaws just reinforce the integrity the Marches bring to it. For a breath of fresh air that's anything but old-fashioned, choose Little Women.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: December 21, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: April 25, 2000
- Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder
- Director: Gillian Armstrong
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: emotional intensity
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