Though they are works of fiction, novels are often sneak peeks into the lives of their authors. Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was a semi-autobiographical account of herself and her sisters in Concord, Massachusetts in the latter half of the 19th century.
Fans celebrating Alcott’s birthday today probably don’t have time to reread the several-hundred page book, but they can devote their evening’s entertainment to watching on of the many adaptations the book has inspired over the years:
- The 1933 film starring Katharine Hepburn was the first big screen ‘talkie’ adaption of the story of the four March sisters. Earning three Oscar nominations and one win, this is a cinematic classic.
- Another award-winning adaptation came 16 years later. One of the top-grossing films of 1949, it also had an all-star cast including Elizabeth Taylor and Janet Leigh as Amy and Meg March.
- For the first time in color, the 1978 made-for-television film boasts a cameo by William Shatner.
- Alcott’s appeal is not limited to Hollywood, there have been two anime adaptations of her tale, one in 1981 and another in 1987. Both were eventually dubbed and shown on US television.
- 1994 brought another blockbuster production from Hollywood. Earning 3 1/2 stars from Roger Ebert, the critic note that while this could easily have been treated as a soft-focus family film, director Gillian Armstrong created a ‘surprisingly sharp and intelligent telling’ of Alcott’s story.
There are a number of viewing options for each of these adaptations from, checking a copy out from the Austin Public Library, to streaming on Netflix or Amazon. For an even more non-traditional telling, you can also search Waterloo Records for the soundtracks of both the Broadway musical and PBS-aired opera.