Booktuber Emily and I got together to talk about Laurie´s character arc and how it is missing from every-single-Little Women adaptation.

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​or watch this YouTube Video

Emily: I have watched the proposal scene in the 1933 film with Katherine Hepburn. At least he has that line ”I can´t believe you, you don´t know what you want”. Jo in 1949 was probably my least favourite. She never really handles scenes like that with much sensitivity. I don´t recall her being very in-depth about emotions in it with Laurie. My problems with the film are that they had no balls to do at of things. Amy´s canning, they come up right against it and back down from it, remember that. When she gets her hand beaten for having limes. They have the teacher almost hit her hand and then he doesn´t do it.

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Niina: I really like Elizabeth Taylor as Amy but the problem with that movie is that they make her the butt of the joke and I don´t like that because that is not something that the book does so it kind of brings out this Amy against Jo positioning again. It should´t be there. It romanticizes Laurie the same way as it does with Mr Bhaer´s character so it becomes Laurie versus Fritz and then Amy versus Jo and it´s just not the way the book goes. The book makes it very clear that Amy is really perfect for Laurie, and Fritz is perfect for Jo. I still haven´t seen an adaptation that does it the way the book does.

Emily: Yeah that´s true. I think they did professor Bhaer pretty well in 1949 film.

Niina: They actually build up that relationship pretty well.

Emily: I appreciated that.

Niina: He is Italian, but I´m going to overlook that.

Emily: We should probably save this for the professor Bhaer video.

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Emily: I like it when the adaptations build up that relationship. I guess some people will argue and say. Oh, ou can´t really develop some of these scenes because or run-time. Because there isn´t really time to do these things but I feel like there is not really an excuse sometimes. When you have the really incomplete arches for everybody. The 2019 film tried to do this with Meg´s arch, dealing with poverty in her marriage, but then they just kind of slapped on a happy ending on that and they were just like we are not going to explore it. We are not going to have any sort of conclusion.

Niina: It was left half-developed but I think that happens a lot with Meg´s character.

Emily: In the beginning, I liked that they were trying to do something with her. They ended up not really properly deal with her in a way that I would like. First of all Emma Watson, as we´ve discussed can´t carry on that kind of quiet strength that Meg has. When you bring something like a marital issue, a serious marital issue, I don´t think you should be like ”Oh I am just going to sell it! Get rid of the silk” you didn´t make the issue go away.

Niina: There was an older version of the script. One of the older versions where her melt-down was included but it wasn´t added into the movie and I heard that it was because of Emma Watson´s performance and that James Norton had to carry out many of the scenes. It goes back to the casting I guess.

Emily: We discussed this before, casting Emma Watson was very much based on her other accomplishments other than acting. Because she plays the same character in every film she is in. I do admire her as an activist but I have not been impressed with her since Harry Potter. Having recently watched the 2017 Did you think they did any better with Laurie´s arch or no? Because I don’t think he really put in much work either. What did you think?

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Niina: I think he was very idealized in that version once again. He is a very melancholic character there. Laurie in the books, he can be very uplifting and very funny sometimes.

Emily: As I said, his interactions with Amy, they were able to build up that relationship a bit more. They acknowledged his musical side. Which is an improvement? I think they tried to get in some of his clashes with Jo. When their characters bummed up their heads sometimes. I think they do some of that. When he ends up with Amy when they come together. We don´t see Amy getting him to put his life in order. I feel again, that is such an important part of their story. Amy is the one to get him to be a productive person.

Niina: Amy´s portrayal in that series it is really a villainization. It was once again putting Amy against Jo. For once they adapted my favourite chapter, which is Calls. She gets to go to Europe and Jo doesn´t get to go to Europe because Jo is actually really rude towards aunt March.

Emily: Absolutely.

Niina. In that particular version, it was framed that we should admire Jo for being rude to aunt March and Jo is like a feminist hero because of that and then Amy is quite happy that Jo doesn´t get to go. Then in the book, it is the opposite. Amy is really horrified by Jo´s actions and she feels ashamed by it. It is not something that she is secretly glad about and when she finds out that she is chosen and Jo is not chosen. She is really sad for Jo. She really feels bad for her. I think 2019 film had that part done much better.

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Emily: Jo and Amy rivalry, the problems I had with 2017 I had similar issues with 2019 where I felt like Amy and Jo were somehow in competition over Laurie, which I don´t like that dynamic.

Niina: That doesn´t happen in the book because Jo never wants to be with Laurie romantically. She is very clear about it since the beginning.

Emily: The only reason she would ever consider accepting Laurie is if Laurie accepted again and that´s because she was lonely and that was really the only reason. I think in 2017 when I saw Jo is like ”oh she is engaged to Laurie what! And I was like ”No” they are not supposed to be in competition over this guy. That is not how it works.

Niina: It really has to do a lot with the scriptwriter and how they feel about the characters because I read an interview from Heidi Thomas who wrote that show and she was not a big fan of Amy. So you can really see how that reflects in the film. Jo doesn´t really have an arch and Amy doesn´t really have an arch. It´s all just a mess.

You can find the full transcript here