Speaking at a recent visit to the American Wing of the Met museum in New York City, director Greta Gerwig revealed some of the inspirations behind the characters and visuals in Little Women, which included fine art, literature, and a diverse range of films such as Vincente Minnelli’s Gigi (1958) Warren Beatty’s Reds (1981) and Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate (1980).
“To sketch out the world of Concord, Mass., in the 1860s where the March family lives, Gerwig studied paintings by Winslow Homer, Lilly Martin Spencer and Seymour Joseph Guy. ‘Paintings are helpful in a way that most photographs aren’t,’ she said. In the Civil War era, ‘you could paint a scene from life in a way that you couldn’t photograph a scene from life. You could get a moment.’ Guy’s oil painting of children reading fairy tales in bed evoked the very hue of childhood. In the film, ‘everything, whether it’s the sunlight or the firelight, feels golden,’ Gerwig said. When the sisters reach adulthood, the light turns white. “It’s not cold,” she said, “but it’s less magical.’” — Amanda Hess (New York Times)
WHY THIS MATTERS:
Gerwig shows that filmmaking goes way beyond the source material — or even the screenplay, for that matter — when it comes to developing rich and believable characters. The director assigned homework to her cast and crew that included cinematic adaptations of classic novels like David Lean’s 1946 Great Expectations and Martin Scorsese’s 1993 The Age of Innocence alongside films such as François Truffaut’s Jules and Jim, Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander, and the musical films of Vincente Minnelli.
Head over to the New York Times to read more: How Greta Gerwig Built Her “Little Women” (New York Times)
Looking for more on Little Women?
Read more: How Little Women Uses Color to Create a Story Within a Story (MovieMaker Magazine)
Read more: Diamonds in the Rough (ICG Magazine)