There were some differences portrayed in the movie, although not as many as one might think. I thought the filmmakers did a beautiful job of covering the key points and even the smaller details that were written in the novel. I loved that the movie portrayed the characters much as we’d read about them and didn’t change them to meet the expectations of the reader. Jo was the most startling contrast of the ones I did note from what I read, and what I saw in the movie. She did not seem as loud and abrasive in the book as she came across in the film, but it still did not harm her character to be so, only reiterated that she was delightfully different than the norm. In terms of attitude, I also think Meg was displayed much softer in the movie than she was in the book.
I think this was done assuming the audience would expect it to be so. She was very proper and submissive, almost, in nature, from beginning to end. This was reiterated when Jo came home to find her expecting a baby and asked her why she hadn’t been informed of such a delightful event and Meg noted that ‘these things are not often spoken of.’ This, and most everything, just made Meg seem ‘the little woman’ in terms of the traditional sense we hear that phrase being used today. It did not deter from the storyline because that is more or less how the audience would assume the women of that time period to behave on romantic matters in life such as the ones Meg went through on screen; courting, engagement, marriage, and having children.
The other difference that I thought quite large was that the beginning of the book the children seem to be a lot younger than they do at the beginning of the movie.
While many of the details were included in the film, it just seems that a whole area of their childhood was skipped somehow once the movie began. I just didn’t picture the girls being as old as they were portrayed in the beginning of the film when I was reading of the same events in the book. Beth and Amy, to be sure, seemed much older than I’d ever imagined, as did Laurie for some reason. I think the filmmaker was thinking of time when this issue came about. Audiences are more interested in an engaging, but not too lengthy movie than they are one that takes on too much time and becomes then dull. Not true for a book where a reader can be lost in the pages happily for hours, and even put it down when necessary and come back to it, never missing a beat (not usually done with a movie).
The final thought I have on the movie vs. the film is that once again, as was done in the 1994 movie as well, Jo seems more prone to love in the end of the movie than the book would ever have you to believe. Her writing is still ever important to her, as it was also in the book, but where romance never came to play for her in the reading: it certainly does in the movie. I think the filmmaker was catering to the audience. There is one scene where she is just as dreamy looking as I have ever seen a romantic character look in a movie and I almost had to laugh out loud, because you just don’t feel that happening in the book. Again, it doesn’t take away from the character too awfully much, but it does rather date her in conforming to the times where a woman was supposed to marry and be in love.
What the movie offers that the book does not is a great visual of the time and place that the setting was written. We see clothing, buildings, household items, transportation, etc. in the movie as they truly must have been during the timeframe the novel had the story taking place. We do not have to guess what the fashion was or how the room may have looked, as we have it all directly in front of us on the screen. Another thing the movie offered was a second look inside the characters from the book. It really brought the pages to life to see the characters brought to life on the screen. It may seem insignificant to note, but I was rather amused at the exclamation Jo used rather often of, “Christopher Columbus!” It made me laugh more than once. You just don’t think of the little everyday things that might have occurred (such as this use of a famous explorer’s name as an expression) during their timeframe that come up in the movie and add to its’ charm, but might very well take away from it, if it were written in the book.
One cannot help but be delighted in watching the 1933 film version of the book. It stays very close to the written word and leaves us with a sense of getting to know the March sisters even further than we did in the book. I am not a huge advocate of movie adaptations of books, but this one is easily an exception to the rule and I would recommend it to anyone has previously read the novel.