Jo vs. Rey – Little Women and Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker

By J1 Reporter Rachel Achola

Over Christmas break I had the privilege of attending two newly released movies. The movies I viewed were “Little Women” and “Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker.” A sentimental movie based on a novel set in a small town during the Civil War may seem to directly contrast with an epic American movie franchise set in outer space, but they have one thing in common: a strong leading female. In this movie review I will be dissecting the characters Jo March and Rey ‘Skywalker’s on screen portrayal and finding similarities and differences between the two characters.

 

If you are looking for a movie with a strong leading female character, “Little Women” is the place to go. The movie feels intimate. Saoirse Ronan played a breathtaking Jo. I could feel every emotion she felt. She had a way of making a smile creep up in Jo’s triumphs, tear up at her sadness and be angered at the obstacles she faced. Jo had a spirit that was bold and free. She seemed to breathe rebellion and passion. Jo was the type of girl that could not hide her true self even if she tried. She had no need for societal standards or the opinions of others. She cut her hair short to sell a story just to support her family and although she cries about it later, that type of action is what sets her apart from the other women in the movie. They are all talented in their own way, just as Jo is, but they are willing to sacrifice their talent for love, social standards or even humility. Jo, on the other hand, knows what she wants and will stop at nothing– short of her sister’s death to get it. When we get a glimpse into the stubborn character’s vulnerability, it is that her life’s path has led her to be lonely. She wants to be a man so that she can take on the world without having the struggles of being who she was born as weigh down her opportunities in life. Her passion and emotion is brought to life on the big screen as we watch her grow. “Little Women” was a highly acclaimed movie on Rotten Tomatoes with a 95 percent rating. It was a PG film and it received the National Film Critics award for best film. 

“The Rise of Skywalker” was a PG13 film that was not as well received as “Little Women,” getting only a 53 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It may be because Star Wars has worn out its concept and this movie had a storyline that has been overused. However, the characters were still intriguing and easy to connect with, Rey especially. Daisy Ridley had a captivating take on her character Rey who is an orphan with no family with immense powers of the force within.  The third movie of the trilogy revolves around Rey’s struggle to find herself. It also resonated with me because I’m a teenage girl. We’re all coming into ourselves as people now. Her character had a powerful message: Our choices define who we are. She felt the split within herself between dark and light, which we all have within. It is natural to have a shadow side and suppressing it is where the danger comes in. The more Rey tried to take out her problems on others, or run away all together, the worse things got. Rey was a bit more difficult to connect to personally because she lives in a world so different from mine.

In Star Wars, the women already had power. Leia ruled the universe and Rey was thought of as the strongest in the New Order despite her femininity. Her humanity showed through when she showed vulnerability and selflessness. As an orphan who discovered her parents were murdered because of her, she carries a sense of guilt throughout her life when it was not her fault at all. I will applaud Daisy for capturing my attention in the scene. Rey was not always like-able, which was another thing I loved about her. Yeah, she saved the universe, but she could isolate herself and be too caught up in her world to pay attention to those around her. It added another aspect to connect to in a character I cannot relate to in many aspects.  

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