Director Greta Gerwig on 'Little Women' and Louisa May Alcott

The Frame
|

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Start with a new film that opens this Christmas Day. It's an adaptation of Louisa May alcott novel Little Women and it is a lovely little gift of a movie yourself theory someday. So you'll need me. You'll wish you have behaved better. Thank you so much for your employment and your many kindnesses I intend to make my own way in the world. No no one makes their own way. Not really we civil woman. You'll need to marry. Well you are not married. Because I'm rich wjr. The film is from writer director. Greta GERWIG stars. Sir Sha Ronin. She played the lead in Greenwich Direct. To`real debut lady bird and the rest of the march sisters are played played by Emma Watson Elisa scanlon and Florence pugh Laura dern plays their mom and Meryl Streep is they're wealthy aunt March gerwig has been thinking about little the women for a very long time well before she even found out that producer Amy Pascal was developing a new adaptation of the novel. Here's Greta Gerwig little women and has been a book that I have loved my whole life in a very deep way to the point. Where my memories? And the memories of the March sisters were intertwined in that way that I think books of your youth can means something even beyond being books because th- they they're the they become part of your family I think that's that's the magic of Reading when you're a child is the the distinction between fiction and reality is thin for you or it. It was for me anyway But I hadn't read it since I was about fourteen or fifteen and then I read it in my early thirties when I turned thirty and I All this stuff came out at me in the book that I it not. When I was a child I can passion get so savage could hurt anyone and I enjoyed it? You remind me of myself never angry. I'm angry nearly every damn I li- reading as an adult. I heard all of these different things. I saw it as much touch spike easier and sadder and stranger and almost more triumphant in a certain way and also just is this kind of being aware of an author was another layer of it for me that Joe both wants to be an author but then Louisa as author and so even though Joe March march by the end of the book says she stops her ink well and stops writing and gets married and has children opens a school Louisa though wrote and she wrote that book and we know what. Because there's the book you know. I just sort of had an idol saw about well if I made this. I'd want to center center on this. I'd WanNa Center on all these themes that I felt I hadn't really seen yet about it which was ambition and money money and women an art and I heard in passing my agent said at a dinner. Oh they're interested making little women again again and I was like what I have to go. I have to talk to them. I have an idea and I hadn't made anything at that point. But he got me a meaning and I I went and I talked talk to them and I told them some version of what I wanted to do and And I said I want to direct it and they wanNA write in Iraq and I hadn't had nothing to really show that I could do that so but they very luckily hired me to write it. And then I wrote my draft in in two thousand fifteen two thousand sixteen and then I went away and I may lady bird and then by the time I was finishing that up they said well what what do you think about making little women and I thought I said well I knew you'd ask. I'm ready but it was a it was one one of those for two. It's turns events. I want to ask about that perspective that you had a reading the book as an adult versus as a young woman woman sure and the perspective you have as somebody who is a creative person gas writing movies and making movies because so much of the movie and certainly in the book as well is about the challenges of being a creative person and how you value your own art how you compromise with people who are financing it and how you find your voice even in those parameters that's right now there's a you you picked up all the cards I put down. No it's a it's funny. It's that the opening scene between Joe March and her publisher Mr Dash would which the majority of it is actually word for word from the book when she says took care to have a few of my sinners repent and he says people want to be amused not preach that morals. Don't sell nowadays. That could be me talking to a studio head about something. I WANNA do But it was. It was all there for me to be discovered. I didn't invent it like like I said that. That scene is a scene from the book but it felt too so relevant to right now and then beyond that when when I was researching Louisa Mail Cart and it became clear that that who Lewis male caught was was equally the subjects that I was interested in and then you learn about her life. Is You know unlike Joe. She never got married. She never had children and but she kept writing and she did keep her copyright copyright of little women which is a you know huge thing that she did and I mean there are so many things about her life and what she did. It felt eerily familiar and I think even even in the fact that Her publisher sure and even herself but her publisher truly didn't know what a hit he had. And I find that happens all the time that there's a constant underestimating of audiences that are not the same audience of the people who are in charge of publishing or whatever that may be the the first half of little win because it is really to books as written ends so group. The curtain falls upon big. Joe Beth and amy whether it ever arises again depends upon the reception given to the first act of the domestic drama called little women death. It's almost like she's saying I've got a a sequel but I hope people by the I know she's She's a business lady no she and and and it it. It's worth saying that the the initial printing sold out in two weeks and it has not been out of print for one hundred fifty years in one thousand nine hundred four. There was a story. Little women leads poll novel level rated ahead of Bible for influence on high school pupils. Yeah that's nice. I mean I mean it's just nice for her and it raises his other question like what people take away from the book because you can interpret it in very different ways. I'm going to give you two prominent women who have thoughts. That's about it. The first is Gloria Steinem. WHO said in Nineteen ninety-two? Where else could we read about an all female group who discussed work art and all the great questions or found girls who wanted to be women and not vice versa? Oh that's beautiful found girls that wanted to be women not the versa. And here's the author meal Paalea who says the whole thing is like a horror movie. I know I think if you have an idea in your head of the it can be of little women. It's usually from the first book. It's the kind of Christmas to Christmas structure. And the you know the second half of the book Louis Male jokes. She should've called the wedding marches. Because they all got married and truly British version is called good wise exactly zoo you know. It was in this to book structure which is part of why I is structured the film I did starting with them as adults Because I wanted to start with the second half but I also think there's two books embedded in it because if you you just read the book on its face value with this. Kind of pre Victorian morality of Domesticity in virtue tied to femininity communitty. And all of these kind of tidy bows put on each chapter. Then I think you miss what's really roiling roiling underneath and if you read it that way of course Camille Paglia is completely right. It is something that would be a horror show if that is all you're seeing but I'd the way I look at it is if you can take the ending of the book where she felt she must marry Joe off to someone because that's what the readers demanded and she made this economic decision. That's what she would do Because she had so books then if you if you read everything through the Lens of will she had to make it all kind of tidy for the time time then if you take away the tidiness what's left is a whole bunch of am Bishen and mess and anger and lust and craziness and things things that don't fit neatly into any box. And so what I wanted to do was not update the text. The text doesn't need updating. I wanted to take away the constraints constraints of the time in some ways. Because that's what was interesting to me and even in those constraints. Louisa really did do her best to try. I to imagine what what would in a gala -tarian marriage look like. What would something that was? Not Essentially INDENTURED SERVITUDE BE As a marriage and I feel that you know Gloria Steinem being one of them with a Simone Tip Avar Patti Smith Orlando Toronto or J. K. Rowling rallying. There's a long list of women for whom this book meant very specific freedom an ambition and what I wanted to do was make a film film that was in the tradition of why that inspired them. Because it's there's gotta be a reason more than she got married to Professor Bear Sogo to see you. Thanks for coming as really

Coming up next