Saturday, January 22, 2011

30 Day Movie Meme: Day 18


I've really slacked on this 30 Day Movie Meme, but I haven't completely forgotten it! It will get done one of these days. When I saw what the topic was for Day 18 I knew, instantly, which two characters I'd write about.

Josephine "Jo" March is based on the character from Louisa May Alcott's classic novel, Little Women. My favourite film adaptation is the 1949 version starring June Allyson as Jo (it also featured Elizabeth Taylor as bratty Amy and Janet Leigh as the maternal Meg). More than Winona Ryder (in 1994) and more than even Katherine Hepburn (in 1933), Allyson captured the essence of Jo March -- that vibrant, tomboyish, larger-than-life young woman whose only disadvantage seemed to be that she was born in the wrong time period (the film is set in the mid- to late- 19th-century). I can completely relate to Jo's more obvious character traits and personal passions. I can relate to her loud voice, coarse language and her embarrassing foot-in-mouth moments. 

I can also relate to her tendency to sob like a baby while reading a sad piece of literature, her passion for writing and becoming a published author, her outlandish imagination, her drama (she secretly desires to be an actress) and her desire to travel and see the world, even if it means leaving behind her beloved home and family. I can even sympathize with her awkward position with Laurie, a man who cares dearly for her but for whom she only views as a close friend. Even her back and forth indecision as to the appealing (or unappealing) prospects of getting married one day is something I can identify with myself. I love watching this film (I usually try to watch it at least once a year) because it makes me laugh to watch hyper-active, emotionally over-the-top Jo try to figure out what she wants out of life, usually using her charming and romantic rhetoric. In the end, she winds up a published author, has her own independence and falls in love with a handsome older German professor she met while living on her own ...that would be nice. 

Charlotte is Sophia Coppola's main female lead in her 2003 film, Lost in Translation. Played by Scarlett Johansson in her breakout role, Charlotte is in Tokyo while her photographer husband is off on a shoot. Having accompanied him to Japan, Charlotte finds herself rethinking the decisions that got her to this point in her young life. Along the way she develops a close bond with an aging actor, played by Bill Murray. The two of them, together, reconnect with the world outside their own personal problems. 

I love Sophia Coppola, mainly for making this film and creating the characters of Charlotte and Bob Harris. Her keen intuition and her complete understanding of how real characters should be written is sharply felt in this film. 

For everything energetic Jo March is, I can relate to some of Charlotte's much quieter attributes. I can relate to her restlessness at growing older. I can understand that disparity between being young but, for some reason, feeling a lot older than I should feel. I understand that curse of overanalyzing everything and rethinking past decisions. I too can be moody and have the tendency to make snap judgements of people of whom I know nothing about. I've travelled on my own before and, in general, I prefer it because you learn a lot about yourself when you are completely alone in a foreign country. You have to force yourself to interact with people you otherwise would never have said a word to had you been with a companion you knew. You get to appreciate the finer things when you don't have anyone else around to distract you. That being said, it can be lonely and a little frightening at times but, ultimately, always worth it for the people you meet and the experiences you take back home with you. Even though Charlotte is technically in Japan with her husband, he's not really around, so she's left to her own resources. 

But, more than anything else, she just wants to connect with someone on a deeper level and have a good time while doing it. But, then again, don't we all?