Podcast: Little Women (1994)

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This version of Little Women gets it nearly perfect, from a script that stays close to the Louisa May Alcott book to beautifully accurate costumes designed by Colleen Atwood. We discuss costumes, characterizations, casting, and a little bit of Transcendentalism and feminist theory.

You can listen to us critique Little Women 1994 movie costumes online below or on iTunes.

 

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Three historical costumers who decided the world needed a podcast and blog dedicated to historical costume movies and everything right and wrong with them.

9 Responses

  1. Julie Mead

    Love this podcast! Fantastic points, well thought out arguements. I have to say I did not enjoy the actress for older Amy. I thought she just didn’t look enough like Kirsten to play her older self. Also, would love to hear your review on Mask of Zorro with Antonio Banderas. Can’t wait to see and hear more! Well done Ladies!

    Reply
    • Trystan

      Thanks! Agreed, the older Amy wasn’t half as good as the young Kirsten Dunst (such a scene-stealer). Older Amy did get the best dresses, that was all.

      Adding Mask of Zorro to the (long) list bec,Antonio Banderas, yum.

      Reply
  2. San

    Because of what you’ve said at the end of the podcast I thought I couldn’t listen to it without writing a little comment :) ! It’s the first of your podcasts I listen to and now I want to listen to some more.
    I remember trying to read “Little women” when I was a young but I didn’t go far in my reading: I read it in French and the translation was a bit… well in French we say “prout-prout”… I mean you couldn’t get the vivid story you have in English, all was told under a kind of softening cheesy veil and the writing was really snobbish (I’m not sure whether it’s clear or not).

    But then I saw the movie years later with my mother and I remember we appreciated its atmosphere and the costumes a lot, although the March family’s tendency to hug every 5 minutes made us smile. Then I bought the book in English and enjoyed much more the original writing style. I wasn’t in the “Jo should have picked Laurie” team. And although I’m not a huge fan of Amy’s character I thought she and Laurie go well together. I mean, Laurie looks like he admires Jo, she brightens his daily life and for Jo, yes she has a complicity with him but as she would have had with a brother or a sister that would have been as tough as her. They don’t have a lot in common, tastes or way of thinking… they play and laugh together, which of course is not a small thing, but… that’s all. I can’t imagine them as a couple, I can only see them as good friends but who won’t share deep strong things. Amy and Laurie on the contrary both have an artistic passion (Laurie the music, Amy the painting) and that’s not a small thing about a personality, they both traveled, they both share the feeling of disappointment with their everyday life, they both are bored with it and have the ambition of changing it. I wasn’t disappointed to see them ending up together although I thought Laurie’s declaration was a bit weird too ;)

    Reply
  3. chelseasolan

    I was a little late to the game discovering your amazing podcast, but over the past couple months have been going back and selectively listening to them (so as to make the ones available last longer!) while working on projects.

    I just re-watched this classic favorite of mine and just had to listen to the podcast today. It was very interesting, especially from the perspective that I never actually read the book before (shame on me!) but the contrasting and comparing the book and film versions is quite interesting!

    Also, I just wanted to point out that I am one of those weirdos who loves the more plain, milk-maidy dresses! Maybe because I secretly wish I could wear those kinds of clothes in my everyday life and they seem the most practical? Or because they seem like something that would have been available for my American Girl doll I had growing up? But my favorite dress from this movie is seen for about 20 seconds on Jo, when Marmie is discussing Meg with Great Aunt March. Jo blusters in asking where Meg’s glove is and I find the beautiful cream, scoop neck dress with the blue sash to die for!

    Reply
    • Kendra

      Thanks!! If you like the movie, you HAVE to read the book — it’s really that good. And I’m glad someone likes the milk-maidy dresses! I agree, there is something appealing about well-made practical clothing.

      Reply
  4. harriedcostumer

    I’m not sure it’s accurate to say the talk about corsets in the movie is too modern (it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, so I don’t remember the exact lines). Another Alcott book, “Eight Cousins,” goes into a lot of detail about the evils of corsets and the advantages of reform dress. “‘My dear Clara, have you lost your senses that you can for a moment dream of putting a growing girl into an instrument of torture like this?’ and with a sudden gesture he plucked forth the offending corsets from under the sofa cushion, and held them out with the expression one would wear on beholding the thumbscrews or the rack of ancient times.”
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38567/38567-h/38567-h.htm#Page_204

    Reply
  5. Jenny Ketcham

    Another spirited podcast! I wanted to jump right in! But mainly I listened to see if anyone with a picky historical bent was as bugged as I was by the Jo/Prof. Baher link-up as I was. So I thought of you guys….in a nice way, of course :-).

    Well you were, but you weren’t, it seems. In the book, I loved the slow build of their relationship, Jo only seeing him as friend and mentor, and he never thought she’d be interested in an old duffer like him. I blame a lot of her slowness on the big bushy beard he had. What crazy joy and surprise for both of them, at the end, when she finally recognizes him, in the rain, under the umbrella, as her love.

    So, the film thwarts all that for me, in the casting. Yeah, Gabriel Byrne is 20 years older, but heck! He’s Gabriel-romantic-sad-eyes-Byrne, for cripes sake! What were they thinking? And they didn’t even disguise his sexiness with the all-important beard! And, they fabricated a scene where he takes her on a date to watch a play from the wings, as I recall, practically canoodling there was so much romantic tension. For me, it just made it impossible to buy Jo’s ignorance of his feelings, or her own. Favorite part ruined!

    Colleen Atwood’s costumes were wonderful…goes without saying.

    Reply
  6. Christine

    I just found your blog and this is fantastic! I just wanted to comment and say that I love the score of this movie – I think it really sets the tone of the film and has a particularly colonial feel which goes well with the milkmaid dresses :P I didn’t mind Winona in this movie, but I first saw it much younger and didn’t have the pop context of Winona that others seem to find bothersome. Excellent podcast and I look forward to listening to more!

    Reply
  7. GinaP

    Fyi… during the pre-production of this movie , a young girl named Polly Klaus was kidnapped and sinice she was a big fan of Winona Ryder, the family reached out to her for assistance. W went on TV , made public announcement and came to town to help in the search (I think, but may be wrong, that this was also Winona’so home town .) Sadly, Polly was murdered and when W found out that Polly’s favorite book was Little Women, she did everything in her power to get this movie made. In fact, somewhere in the movie there is a dedication to the memory of poor Polly. This I believe is the reason Winona got the role of Jo.

    Reply

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