Though many readers associate Alcott with the sweetness of Little Women, Reisen tells NPR‘s Linda Wertheimer, Alcott’s legacy — and Jo March’s, too — is really about the empowerment of women and girls around the world.
“You don’t grow up to walk two steps behind your husband when you’ve met Jo March,” says one Alcott fan.
In the time since Little Women was published in 1868, Reisen says she believes a countless number of women have — as Alcott put it — “resolved to take fate by the throat and shake a living out of her.”
[STARRED REVIEW] Harriet Reisen’s fine script and Nancy Porter’s vivid production combine to treat viewers to a visually rich, well-paced, and intimate view of Louisa May Alcott’s life. The story unfolds in well-paced dramatized vignettes, excellent scholarly commentary, clips from the original film of Little Women, and readings from Alcott’s personal letters and from her biographer, Ednah Cheney, played with a marvelous, spine-cracking correctness by Jane Alexander.
For those who know Louisa May Alcott only as the author of some of the most enduring classics of children’s literature, “Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind ‘Little Women’ ” will be a revelation. For those already familiar with Alcott’s Transcendentalist-boho childhood, her sensational tales of love and horror under the pen name A.M. Barnard and her refusal to diminish her personal and economic freedom by marrying, the dramatically reenacted documentary gives life and texture to a woman of extraordinary talent and determination who became as great a celebrity in her day as J.K. Rowling is in ours.
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WNRI/NPR’s Bob Seay interviews director/producer Nancy Porter on her latest film, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women at the Rhode Island Film Festival.
Listen to the NPR interview