[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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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
October 27, 2009: Author Harriet Reisen’s Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women gets off to a flying start on its pub date with Diane Rehm’s interview and call-in show from Washington, DC. The syndicated NPR offering reaches some two million listeners. Subsequent bookings are a Harvard Bookstore-sponsored film-clip and reading with Director Nancy Porter at Cambridge’s Brattle Theatre on October 29; a 3 PM Sunday November 1 appearance at the Concord MA Bookshop; a Westport CT Public Library signing at noon on November 4; and a Boston Public Library evening event on November 10. To arrange a reading/signing/video event, contact us.
Gala Video Roundtable of American Library Association Meeting to Feature Louisa May Alcott Film and Filmmakers
Chicago, July 12 2009: The program for the Annual Gala Video Roundtable of the week-long annual national meeting of the American Library Association, attended by upwards of 12,000 librarians, is a discussion of two biographical films for the American Masters series; Louisa May Alcott, and the upcoming Helen Keller, produced by Laurie Block. Block will introduce Nancy Porter and Harriet Reisen, and moderate the audience discussion. The program, at the Gene Siskel Theatre, follows drinks and a buffet dinner for the 200 gala ticket holders.
American Literature Association Meeting Holds Panel on Making of Louisa May Alcott Film; Hosts Screening
May 24, 2009: Scholar interviewees John Matteson and Joel Myerson joined Producers Nancy Porter and Harriet Reisen for a panel discussion and clips from the documentary at the Westin Copley Hotel in Boston sponsored by the Louisa May Alcott Society at the American Literature Association’s annual meeting. Professor Daniel Shealy, editor of numerous Alcott volumes and also an interviewee, was in the audience. Professor Mary Sheldon of Virginia Commonwealth University organized, and Sandra H. Petrulionis of Penn State Altoona introduced the panel. A late afternoon screening attended by a standing-room only audience greeted the film with great enthusiasm, and several commented that it was among the best documentary treatments of a literary figure they had yet seen.
American Masters Announces December 28 2009 Airdate for Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women
Susan Lacy, Executive Producer, commented that programming during the week between Christmas and New Year’s attracts big family audiences.