Thoughts on Disney’s ‘Into the Woods’

5 Stars

If you are even remotely emotional or sentimental and tend to sympathize with characters, you will cry. I don’t think that it is optional.

Personally, I liked it.

Lets give a little background on the movie.

Disney’s ‘Into the Woods’ is based on a play, or rather is the play turned into a movie.The original Broadway musical is, apparently, incredibly dark. Don’t worry though, Disney did not turn it into one of their normal cheerful movies, its still frightening (though rated PG) and it still has lessons and morals.

This is the cast:

First however, I want to say, that just as with my other movie reviews, I can’t promise the absence of spoilers. Its a read at your own risk.

I love fairy tales, always have and probably always will. I also love accuracy, and whenever an author or movie sticks to the original plot points, it makes me very happy and very appreciative.

As most of us will know, fairy tales, at least in their original state, are terrifying. And they hardly ever end well.

Into the Woods takes the original fairy tales, combining them, and showing you what happens after ‘Happily Ever After.’ It makes the characters real. The first fifteen minutes introduce you to the main characters, and they all wish for something. None of them are happy, none are satisfied.

And not everybody gets a Happily Ever After. Here comes potential spoilers depending on your definition of spoilers.

Examples of accuracy:

  • Red and her grandmother get eaten (they are later saved)
  • Cinderella’s stepmother forces her daughters to cut off parts of their feet to make them fit into the slippers. (The girls’ eyes are later pecked out by Cinderella’s crows)
  • Rapunzel’s prince gets his eyes poked out/blinded by thorns (She later ends up healing him with her tears, however, she was still abandoned in a snake infested swamp)

That’s just a bit.

The movie is very long, and it doesn’t end where you expect it to. Right before the middle of Into the Woods there is a wedding. And usually a happy ending is the final scene of any given Disney fairy tale.

Not this time.

The second half of the movie is dark, and not just because it takes place in the middle of the night. It is heavy, there is death and mistakes, and people learn. They learn what they did wrong.

Unlike every other Disney movie, this is not cheerful. Even Maleficent ended in a sun filled valley. Into the Woods ended in a dark, destroyed forest with a significantly smaller cast, who are all injured in one way or another. In the final scene, a beam of sunlight lights on them, like a single ray of hope.

Now that I have described the mood, perhaps we can move onto something more cheerful.

Lets talk about the music.

All the actors and actresses performed their songs very well. I’m still thinking about The Last Midnight, sung by The Witch (Meryl Streep)  while all the other characters are arguing over the blame while a giant is destroying the kingdom. Here’s the song:

The Witch is pretty right most of the time, “Stop arguing and find the cow!”.

And here are two princes singing an argument. Watching it was hilarious; most of the theatre was laughing.

I have read and watched many fairy tale retellings, but Into the Woods brought the same characters to life in a new way. Their interactions with one another were believable, and some characters who before had no personality, such as Cinderella’s prince, were given one.

Not as perfect as you would have believed.

I love the Witch, though I can’t really place the reason for it. Perhaps it is because she tells everyone off.

The Baker was great. He and his wife must collect five items for the Witch in order to have a child, and the way they go about it shows you pretty early on who they really are. While the Baker’s Wife goes and just steals the items, or lies in order to gather them, her husband is given the items (such as the cape) as a token of thanks.

I didn’t like the Baker’s Wife.

She ended up falling off a cliff.

There was a lot of scenes, and at least one song that were cut from the play when Disney made it into a movie. This was in order to make it family friendly, and the final product is still pretty scary for Disney’s usual standards. I haven’t seen the musical as well, so my opinion is focused solely on the movie, and I am not able to tell you how well it translated over or how accurate I found it.

However, I can say that I enjoyed it.

To recap:

I’m almost glad that I don’t live in a fairy tale.

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