Into the Woods contains many dark elements, while encompassing the nostalgic essence that fans love. It’s fun,unique and not what you would expect from the Disney franchise.
Directed by Rob Marshall, the film effectively captures all of the things we love about old fairy tales, taking it in a new direction by including an original, interwoven plot that unifies the stories of Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood. With a star-studded cast including Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine and Anna Kendrick, I was left thoroughly impressed by the end.
The film, adapted from Stephen Sondheim’s musical production of the same name (which premiered on Broadway in 1987) is a story about a baker,his wife and their attempt to conceive a child. They end up discovering that their neighbour, the Witch, placed a curse on the house years ago when the baker’s father was stealing from her garden. To have the curse lifted, they must bring her four key items, all of which belong to the characters from the other fairy tales.
Into the Woods stayed truer to these fairy tales than any other adaptation I’ve seen. Not many Disney lovers realize that the original fairy tales actually include darker elements such as Jack’s foolishness and greed, or Cinderella’s stepsisters chopping off their heels and toes to try and squeeze their foot into the slipper, which Marshall highlights in grim detail in the film.
Into the Woods also plays with the idea of being didactic and marketed to children. Fairy tales carried with them a moral lesson and were read to children to teach them obedience, and if they succeeded, they would be rewarded. Each of the characters in the film went through a series of trials and tribulations, and those who were disobedient were punished in some capacity, which I found to be genius — aside from the clearly evident sexual tension between Little Red and The Wolf, because that was just downright uncomfortable.
The film focused more so on what happens after the fairy tales end, and that’s what was most enjoyable. I was also pleased that Disney didn’t tie up the movie with the traditional, archetypal, overdone, unrealistic happy ending. Audiences should go in expecting the unexpected and will appreciate the direction that Into the Woods takes.