Every once in a while even a cynic like me needs a feel-good movie. I’ve always loved the book Little Women and each movie and show series made after the classic has warmed my heart. When I learned of a new movie that would be a modern-day adaptation I was slightly nervous. I mean, I’m a bit of a purist and classics are classics for a reason. However, when I saw one of my favorite actors, Ian Bohen would be starring in it as Freddy I had to give the new movie a chance.
I screened it about a week ago and I’m so glad I did. The entire movie was beautiful and so well adapted. I don’t want to spoil it but let me just tell you, there is nothing lacking from this version. All the same March sister drama takes place, just in a way that makes sense for today. I mean Jo is allowed to go to college people, it is 2018. And some mean girls might take advantage of our Meg’s sweet sensibility. The honest truth is our world is not perfect and Little Women director Clare Niederpruem does a spectacular job showing us exactly this. On top of directing she wrote the screenplay as well. I sat down with her yesterday to talk about the movie and her journey and left with a full heart and my eyes bright with new information.
Little Women Director Clare Niederpruem Interview
Lee: Why Little Women?
Clare: I’ve been a fan my whole life. I love Jo and the other March sisters. I recently reread the book as a grown up and it had a different meaning to me because the story is about changing and going through different stages in life and I got so much more out of it this time around. I really connected with it. It reminded me of the relationships with the females in my life today. Then I wondered, what would the March sisters look like in 2018? It’s timeless and I began my journey.
Lee: What was your biggest struggle adapting the film (or script) to present day?
Clare: A few things, one thing was in the book women were not able to vote or pursue certain careers or college. We had to modernize that and still realize we have inequality. But we shifted it to Jo being an artist, not getting into her favorite college rather than not being allowed to go. We focused on the girl’s personal journeys.
Lee: This was your directorial debut – was it a bit of a Jo March moment?
Clare: Yeah totally! I felt like Jo through the entire journey. I mean it’s a struggle to get a script done, a miracle to get a movie made, another miracle to get it out there. I’m just stealing from her this whole time. Steal from the best I guess they say. I had an amazing crew and cast, I’m so grateful to Lea Thompson, Ian Bohen and Lucas Grabeel for working with a first time director and taking a chance on me. It was such a wonderful experience and here we are! An incredible crew and cast.
Lee: Each sister is so relatable even more so than in the book, was that on purpose? I mean I’m totally an Amy, things have to be a bit about me or I’ll make them that way.
Clare: Each one has a dynamic and distinctive personality and I wanted to explore that. Each girl who sees our version of Little Women should be able to connect with one of the March Sisters and see their own friends in the characters. Little Women at its heart is a love story between four sisters and we wanted to focus on these four characters. I think this is why so many women love this book because there is a character you can relate to and can be representative to who you are.
Lee: Which sister do you relate to most?
Clare: I’m a Jo/Amy as a writer I struggle with this but I have an edge to me like Amy and like you maybe I’m a bit self-centered, but not in a bad way. A lot of ways Jo and Amy are similar which is why they fight so much, they are firecrackers and they fight to the death.
Lee: How long did it take to make the movie?
Clare: Hmm. A year and a half process total, 2-3 months to write everything, 6 months to get it off the ground, 17 days of shooting and now we are promoting it.
Lee: Tell us about incorporating Pilgrim’s Progress in your movie?
Clare: That was something that Kristy(writing/production partner)and I decided on together because we loved that part of the book. The March sisters use it to play and to learn. It was a beautiful part of the journey, a representation, a piece of art from the book. And for those true Louisa May Alcott fans it is an easter egg of sorts.
Lee: Tell us about the Christian aspect of your movie? There have been chats that this is a faith-based film but it wasn’t heavily mentioned in the movie? Papa March is a doctor in the Military not even a Minister. I think I recall a cross necklace at one point.
Clare: We don’t consider it a faith based film but instead a family film. I wanted to stay true to who the Alcott family was and they are very spiritual. Now, the castles which are an important part of the movie are representative of heaven and following God’s plan. Beth is the most spiritual character. She is mature and knows the importance of life. This is why she has the cross, she’s an angel in a lot of ways. It’s not only for Christians, it’s for families. It is being distributed by Pureflix which is why people think this, but Pinnacle Peak is more secular.
Lee: Fun questions time! What is your favorite movie?
Clare: Yay! It’s A Wonderful Life. I go back to this all the time. Also Now and Then, it’s one of those I saw when I was 12 or 13 and it was so meaningful to me and I always remember it.
Lee: Who is your favorite actor?
Clare: Hmm, (she really thought on this one.) The first woman who comes to mind is Emily Blunt, she can mold into anything. Musicals, horror, sweet, strong, fierce. Also Sally Field she is so loveable and funny. Leo Dicaprio because he’s so good at everything he does. Titanic is my favorite. I love Kate Winslet as well.
Lee: Is there anything else you want to tell your audience about Little Women that I didn’t ask you about?
Clare: I want to encourage people to go see it opening weekend so it can survive because these small indie films need this type of support. Take your daughter, your sister, cousins, see a film about supporting women.
I can second the encouraging words to see the movie over the weekend. Whether you’re an old fan or new to the classic this adaptation is heartwarming and charming. The scene where Meg goes to the high school dance in the inappropriate dress is probably my favorite but in an unfortunate way. It’s one of the chances Niederpruem had to adapt the classic book and she does an imaginative job of turning the storyline into a real-world situation. A real “parent’s nightmare”. Of course, I also loved the scenes between Jo and Freddy, usually Jo being dismissive of Freddy’s opinions and feelings which is a bit different than the original.
I had such a fun time speaking with Clare. She is a true fan of her own actors. She talked to me at length about Teen Wolf because Ian Bohen starred in it and now she is totally into it. So basically we’re best friends now. LOL. She’s also one of those people that is just unaffected and real. And I wish her absolutely the best in the future.