Little Women

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 2 - Dolby Digital City, DVD Teaser
Year Released 1994 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 113:42 minutes Other Extras Cast Filmographies
Featurette - Untitled (7 mins)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (76:39)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Gillian Armstrong

Columbia Tristar
Starring Winona Ryder
Gabriel Byrne
Trini Alvarado
Samantha Mathis
Kirsten Dunst
Claire Danes
Christian Bale
Eric Stoltz
Mary Wickes
Susan Sarandon
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Thomas Newman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
German (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes 

Plot Synopsis

    I'll admit it. I loved Little Women. I cried. I blubbered. I was moved. Tell anyone else and I'll have to kill you.

    I was all primed to grit my teeth and put up with a traditional Hollywood chick flick, but Little Women is far more than this. It is a stunningly photographed and very moving story about four adolescent girls growing up into women, and the hurdles they must overcome. It is far more than a mere period piece, even though it is set well over 100 years ago. In the hands of a lesser director, this movie could have easily turned saccharine-sweet, but Gillian Armstrong never allows this to happen.

    Winona Ryder stars as the impetuous and fiery Jo March, Trini Alvarado is the prim and proper Meg, Claire Danes is the gentle Beth and Amy, the youngest, is played by Kirsten Dunst and Samantha Mathis. Susan Sarandon is their mother, who has to raise her daughters on her own as her husband is fighting in the American Civil War.

    Rounding out a very strong ensemble cast are the significant men in the girls' lives; Friedrich Bhaer (Gabriel Byrne), Laurie (Christian Bale) and John Brooke (Eric Stoltz).

    The best part about this movie is the strong characters. Characters who are not perfect and make mistakes. Characters that are, above all, human.

Transfer Quality


    How can I summarize the quality of this transfer? Easy. Two words. Columbia and Tristar. Need I say any more? Probably not, but I will anyhow. This is a stunningly good transfer, with only the slightest of trivia to pick at.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was magnificently sharp and clear. There is a stunning amount of detail visible in every shot, from details in wood panelling to individual blades of grass. Shadow detail was excellent. There was no low level noise apparent.

    The colours were magnificent, with beautiful deep browns, gorgeous lush greens and perfectly rendered whites.

    Some trivial MPEG artefacts could be seen during the opening title fade ins and outs, but this is being very picky indeed. Film-to-video artefacts were not seen, though the opening titles were a touch wobbly. I am sure that this is not the fault of the transfer, but rather the fault of whoever created the titles. Film artefacts were very rare.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed well at 76:39, between Chapters 17 and 18. The layer change is minimally disruptive to the flow of the action.


    There are six audio tracks on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtracks. The default soundtrack is the English Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded soundtrack. I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Towards the latter part of the movie, I felt that the overall level of the sound was marginally low, but this was not a major problem.

    Dialogue was pretty much always clear and easy to understand. Some of the dialogue had a post-processed ADR sound about it and was not well integrated into the overall soundtrack.

    There were trivial audio sync issues with this disc during the dialogue that was ADR processed, but there was nothing of any real significance to be concerned about.

    The score by Thomas Newman is simple and yet very effective and evocative. It is wonderfully interwoven with the movie, and ably assists the movie in creating the appropriate emotional effect.

    The surround channels had very limited use. Music was mixed into the rear, and very occasional sound effects made their way to the rear, but this was a basically front soundstage movie.

    The .1 channel had very little to do in this soundtrack.


    This disc has more extras than usual for Columbia Tristar. The Dolby Digital City trailer and their DVD Teaser Trailer are present on this disc.

What's Missing / What's Extra

    We miss out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on; [Addendum 12th September 2000: A Collector's Edition of this DVD with audio commentary and copious extras is now available in Region 1, making that version the version of choice.]


    The menu design is standard Columbia Tristar 4:3 fare.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Filmographies - Cast

    A basic and incomplete-looking listing of who has been in what.

Featurette - Untitled

    This is a 7 minute featurette with intercut theatrical trailer, cast and crew interview footage, behind the scenes footage and voiceover footage. Limited value.


    Give Little Women a chance, even if you would not normally consider this movie. It will have even more effect if you watch it with a significant other.

    The video quality is extremely good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are acceptable.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
6th July 1999
Amended 12th September 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer