[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.
“Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind ‘Little Women’ ’’ manages to penetrate the facts of Louisa May Alcott’s life (1832-1888) to get at her humor, her spirit, and her growth as a person. With a smart, tasteful use of docudramatic re-creations, director Nancy Porter gives us the story of a writer’s interior world and genesis with more drama and color than you generally expect from a 90-minute documentary.
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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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Alcott doc voted Top Video 2009 by ALA’s Booklist editors
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
August 4, 2006: Dr. Jonathan Howe, Director of The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations of Jacksonville, Florida, makes a site visit to Nancy Porter Productions in Lexington, Massachusetts, accompanied by his wife, Dr. Harriet Howe. After meeting to discuss production, educational outreach, and funding plans, Project Directors Reisen and Porter join the Drs. Howe on a private tour of Orchard House by Director Jan Turnquist.