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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Little Women can be found here.
While their father is away fighting in the American Civil War [1861-1865], the four March girls Meg (Trini Alvarado), Jo (Winona Ryder), Beth (Claire Danes), and Amy (Kirsten Dunst [younger] and Samantha Mathis) [older]) grow up before the eyes of their mother Marmee (Susan Sarandon).
Yes. Little Women is a classic novel by American novelist Louisa May Alcott [1832-1888]. The novel was first published in two parts in 1868 and 1869. Both parts were published as a single volume in 1880. The novel was adapted for this movie by American screenwriter Robin Swicord. The story of Little Women is loosely based on Alcott's experiences with her own three sisters: Anna, Elizabeth, and May Alcott, and their mother, Abigail Alcott. The popularity of the novel has given rise to numerous other screen adaptations of the story including two silent movies, Little Women (1917) and Little Women (1918), and at least five other "talkies", including: Little Women (1933), Little Women (1946), Little Women (1949), Little Women (1958), and Little Women (1978), as well as several TV series.
No. Although all movies adapted from Louisa May Alcott's book will tell a similar story, the 1933 and 1949 versions of Little Women were based on a script by Victor Heerman. Robin Swicord's screenplay is a readaptation of the novel and not a remake based on Heerman's script.
At the beginning of the novel, Meg is the oldest at 16, Jo is 15, Beth is 13, and Amy is 12. Winona Ryder was about 22 years old at the time the film was shot, six years older than her character Jo. Trini Alvarado was 26 at the time, 10 years older than the Meg of the novel. Claire Danes, who plays Beth, was about 14 at the time. Kirsten Dunst, who plays young Amy, was 11, and Samantha Mathis (older Amy) was 23. The movie spans about six or seven years so, by the end of the movie, the characters are much closer in age to the actresses playing them.
It's a lot easier cinema-wise to make a 22-year-old actress look 15 than it is to make an 11-year-old actress look 19. Too much physical development takes place between the ages of 11 and 19, thus the decision to cast Kirsten Dunst as Amy at the beginning of the movie and Samantha Mathis as Amy old enough to be married to Laurie (Christian Bale). Although Claire Danes was only 14 at the start of the movie, her character died some four years later and was still looking young and frail at the time, not necessitating an older actress to play Beth.
Rag money refers to the money gotten from selling rags and worn-out household items to peddlers. It was a very small source of income; in most families, the women retained control over that money (rather than turning it over to husbands/fathers). In the March family, the girls took turns with who received the income for that month.
Just regular limes, although they were described as "pickled limes" in the novel. A recipe for pickled limes can be found here.
Amy believed that her nose was flat from Jo dropping her as a baby, so she wore a clothespin on it, hoping to reshape it. The clothespin is her effort to effect cosmetic change in the days before plastic surgery. Her mother disapproves of Amy's vanity. In the film, Marmee tells Amy something like, "You should spend more time fashioning your character than your nose." Here's the text from the novel:
If anybody had asked Amy what the greatest trial of her life was, she would have answered at once, "My nose". When she was a baby, Jo had accidentally dropped her in the coal-hod, and Amy insisted that the fall had ruined her nose forever. It was not big, nor red, like poor "Petrea's"; it was only rather flat, and all the pinching in the world could not give it an aristocratic point. No one minded it but herself, and it was doing its best to grow, but Amy felt deeply the want of a Grecian nose, and drew whole sheets of handsome ones to console herself.
Scarlet fever (aka scarlatina) is a disease caused by the Streptococcus germ. Scarlet fever was given this name because of the yellowish-red hue given to the cheeks of the face. Symptoms include, among others, fever and a discolored tongue called "strawberry tongue". Nowadays, scarlet fever can be controlled with penicillin. In the timing of Little Women, which took place and was written in the 1860s, neither germs nor penicillin were even known. Complications of scarlet fever before the late 19th century could include rheumatic fever, which led to heart disease. This seems to be what happened to Beth.
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