Into the Woods (2014) – Blog for School
Into the Woods (2014)
Written by: James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Staring: Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, James Corden, Tracey Ullman
In a story starring fairy tale characters we recognize, the Disney film that was originally a Stephen Sondheim musical uses the base stories to begin this tale. These are the stories that would have not made an original cut for a Disney film, the ones with tragic happenings and darker backgrounds, like Rapunzel’s blinded prince and Cindrella’s disfigured step-sisters.
A witch demands help from a baker and his wife, promising them she will release the curse she has placed on their home and give them a child if they help her lift her own curse. This leads them into the woods after a cape of crimson, a cow as white as milk, hair the color of the silk of a corn, and a golden slipper. At the same time Jack is traveling through the woods to sell is cow, Cinderella is in the woods to visit her mother’s grave, and Little Red Riding Hood travels through the woods to go to Granny’s house. Somewhere already within the woods, Rapunzel is locked in a tower looking for love.
Halfway through this film you will have seen the happy ending of the fairy tale stories that are oddly familiar, but then the familiarity ends and begins the tale of what happens after happily ever after. It’s not such a happy place, in fact this is quite grim.
The story is a chronological tale, first focusing on the fairy tale portion, and then the after effects of happily ever after. In this sort of telling it is more effective to reach for chronological, as it gives the audience a connection with their individual stories that are intertwining.
The characters themselves grow from their openings. Cinderella is a girl who doesn’t want to make a choice that will decide her life:
Meanwhile, her prince and his brother sing of their agony, which one of them seems to only take on because it’s a challenge:
Later Cinderella learns what it was to not actually make her decision while the baker and his wife realize the true meaning of having a child. The witch that started this hunt in the first place might have the most tragic story of them all, her vanity winning over her love for the child she has stolen and raised. When it does she regrets much, but can not turn back time and right the wrongs she has brought on herself. By being entirely focused on one thing and only wanting what they want right now, every character in the movie learns there was more out there they should have paid attention to, that they were missing life by wanting something else.
The film relies heavily on humor and the music to tell the story. Without the music or without the humor, this would be a dark story that few would have an interest in. The reasons that send them into the woods, the events that take place, and the deaths they have to come to deal with all would tell of nothing but tragedy. While tragedies can be brilliantly written, the bittersweet conclusion of this film might not ring with that hollow feel. The hollow feel, actually, seems to be the goal of the entire movie.
Into the Woods Live Q&A Event. (2014, November 18). Retrieved March 6, 2015, from https://www.yahoo.com/movies/v/woods-live-q-event-200000218.html
On the Steps of the Palace – “Into the Woods” Original Movie clip (Anna Kenrick). (2015, January 9). Retrieved March 6, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s597R2Awbk
Oncer, J. (2015, January 8). Agony | Into the woods 2014 | Chris Pine & Billy Magnussen. Retrieved March 6, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmixlJ79ZF0