But also, My Brilliant Career: Does Jo March marry Professor Bhaer at the end of the new Little Women?
Perhaps at Marienbad! Over at Slate, Martinelli and Schwedel debated the question on Christmas morning, the very day the new film was released.
The two "superfans" couldn't settle the question. This very day, at The Guardian, it seems that Laura Snapes has:
SNAPES (1/29/20): In her biggest change to Alcott’s narrative, Gerwig reconciles the unease between Jo’s teenage passions and grownup reality by having her refuse to marry Professor Bhaer or to wed the heroine in the story she sells: she has said she wanted viewers to feel the same thrill over “girl gets book” as they usually would when “girl gets boy”. Her decision has been praised for recognising Alcott’s feminist intentions and for validating a woman’s mind over her romantic potential; it’s also been criticised for perpetuating lean-in feminism and, in its own way, devaluing the original text.There's a bit of fuzz in the sentence in question. But Snapes seems to say that Jo doesn't simply remain unmarried at the end of the film.
According to Snapes, Jo refuses to marry Herr Bhaer!
Whatever! As we've noted before, there's nothing "wrong" with so much confusion, or for that matter with so much "adaptation," unless you decide that there is.
Regarding the thrill of "girl gets book," Gillian Armstrong has already provided that thrill in My Brilliant Career, the 1979 Aussie film which has long been one of our three favorite films.
My Brilliant Career won six (Australian) Academy Awards, including Best Film and Best Director. Up Here, it won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film.
Later, Armstrong directed the 1994 version of Little Women. We liked it a lot when we stumbled upon it, though nowhere near as much.
In related news, Gerwig seems to pay musical homage to My Brilliant Career at two points in her new Little Women. It's a fact you'll learn nowhere else!
At two different points in Gerwig's film, two different characters play the piano in the March home. On each occasion, out comes Schumann's Of Foreign Lands and People, the musical theme of the utterly brilliant My Brilliant Career.
Is My Brilliant Career utterly brilliant—an utterly brilliant film? Such things are matters of judgment! That said, its young heroine does in fact refuse to marry at the end of the film, breaking the hearts of the bulk of the audience, along with that of Sam Neill.
The film's young heroine, played by Judy Davis, is determined to finish the book she is writing—a book about her own challenging life. Sam Neill is utterly good, and wholly devoted, but their exchange, near the end, goes exactly like this:
JUDY DAVIS: Can't you see? The last thing I want is, is to be a wife out in the bush, having a baby every year.Harry is utterly crestfallen. It's one of the greatest scenes we've ever seen, in large part because the audience wants so strongly to see her say yes, she will.
SAM NEILL: You can have anything you want. We can go to the city as much as you like.
JUDY DAVIS: Dear, dear Harry. Maybe I'm ambitious, selfish. But I can't lose myself in somebody else's life when I haven't lived my own yet.
I want to be a writer. At least I'm going to try. But I've got to do it now, and I've got to do it alone.
Please try and understand.
SAM NEILL: I thought you loved me. Don't you love me even a little?
JUDY DAVIS: Oh, Harry. I'm so near loving you. But I'd destroy you, and I can't do that.
At any rate, and as you can see, the lead character in My Brilliant Career does all the things Jo March doesn't do at the end of Little Women. Unless you "adapt" the famous book, sailing to Byzantium by way of Marienbad.
Sybylla does all the things Jo March doesn't do. Maybe Gerwig should have done a remake of My Brilliant Career! Except you can't get rich and famous, commanding an army of silly fanpersons, if you decide to remake a film which lacks an army of superfans—a film which would be very hard to improve on.
We treasure the night when we heard the audience gasp when Judy said no to Sam! It's very rare see an audience so deeply involved in a story.
Today, we get to read debates about whether Jo does or doesn't marry Bhaer in the new adaptation. This is presented as feminism—and it could be that it actually is, depending on how you score it.
As our nation slides toward the sea, the feminism—like everything else—has sometimes displayed what the experts now widely describe as "a very stable dumbness."
The claims that Gerwig got "snubbed" by the Oscars have, quite routinely, been dogmatic and dumb beyond all human belief. So, of course, is a great deal we read these days in our leading newspapers, including this recent complaint in the Washington Post concerning what happened one candidate told a joke.
We have miles to go before we sleep regarding the punditry which has surrounded Gerwig's well-reviewed film. We now realize that our explorations will continue into next week—Oscar week itself!.
That said, the punditry has often been amazingly strange—and we'd have to say it has sometimes put "progressive" values on display which are less than wholly impressive.
Anthropologists keep telling us about the longings of our failing species. We long for the simplest possibles story, these credentialed experts despondently say—for a story in which we can reduce the world to the simplest possible formula.
Was Professor Bhaer too "stout," but also too poor and too "unattractive," for Dear Jo to marry? So they're saying over at Vox, in a remarkable series of reports about Gerwig's film.
The professor was too stout, too unattractive. But oh, what kinds of values are these, which keep going from bad to worse?
Tomorrow: The candidate tells a joke