Little Women: 1994 vs 2018

By Anna Hayes


“Little Women” is the story of the four March sisters told in the second oldest sister, Jo’s, point of view. I myself come from the family of four girls, falling second behind my older sister, and this story never fails to make me cry. Since I  read the book, I hadn’t been able to bring myself to watch the movie until this year when I saw the 2018 version.

After watching the newer adaption of the film I decided to go back and watch the 1994 version and compare the two. Before we start, I have to say that both films have nothing on the book and that is the TEA.


The main cast of “Little Women” consists of the four March daughters and their neighbor Laurie: Meg the oldest, Jo the second, Beth the third, and Amy the youngest.

The 1994 version of the film takes place in the early 19th century when the book was written, so the struggles the family undergoes are more accurate than the new adaption of the film. For example, Beth’s illness and the struggles of women in “society” that Meg and Jo face.

The biggest change between the two films is the moment where Jo shows the most growth as a character. This is where Jo comes to realize exactly how much she cares about her sisters and it is essential to her character’s development.

It begins when Amy throws Jo’s journal into the fire. The journal is Jo’s most prized possession because she is an aspiring writer. In the original story and 1994 version after throwing the journal, Amy falls into the ice while ice skating. Here Jo overcomes her anger towards Amy and saves her from drowning/freezing to death.

In the 2018 adaption Amy falls off a horse rather than falling into ice. Instead of having that moment where Jo saves her, they have Jo realize how important Amy is to her after being injured. While this shows how Jo cares about Amy, it takes away the impact of Jo’s character development from when Jo decided to save Amy after she had destroyed her most treasured possession in the 1994 version.


Not a big deal just removing some essential character development. . .

Other than this very important  moment in the story being removed, both films followed the story line from the book to the best of their ability in the 1-2 hour time slot that a movie allows for a story to be told. Out of all the films that originated as novel, this is definitely one of the lucky ones that wasn’t ruined by screenplay adaptation.

Before I sign off, I want to encourage you to definitely watch at least one, if not both, of the adaptations. If you want something more entertaining and relatable, then I suggest you watch the 2018 version. If you want to know the characters more and have a more realistic image of the book, you should watch the 1994 version.

Pro-tip: Both will make you cry, so remove makeup before watching and have tissues ready.

Me pretending I’m okay after crying about Beth for an hour.

Me pretending I’m okay after crying about Beth for an hour.

My official opinions on which of the two films is better:

Better Casting: 2018

Most True to the Book: 1994

Sadder: 2018

The Overall Winner: 2018 (but the book is truly the best)