WANTED: Brave, musically talented women and men – preferably in a state of despair – ready to go on a quest into the woods.
REWARD: Clarity. And outdoor experience.
‘Into the Woods’ is Disney’s newest musical movie, an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and James Lapine’s (book) musical of the same name from 1986. It envelops the viewer into a string of interwoven classic fairy tales with a twist and tests the audience’s musical abilities.
First things first: The movie stars Meryl Streep.
Whenever you’ve managed to cast Streep for your project, it’s gonna be pretty hard to shoot a truly dreadful film. Because – Hollywood knows – Streep sells. And what sells even more? A singing Streep. The potentially best actress of our time portrays a witch that is ‘not good, not nice but right’, that bemoans the loss of her youth and her beauty and therefore hides her beautiful young stepdaughter in a high tower (hint: she’s got unnaturally long hair). But even in this deserted corner of your enchanted world, the NSA will probably still wire you and sip on their coffee while listening to your bewitching songs.
In short – yes, Streep is not particularly nice in this one – she has cursed a guy in the past because his pregnant wife was in desperate need of some greens and, well, witches always keep the best ones in their garden. But the guy dared to steal not only her arugaluga and her rampion but also the witch’s magic beans. And we know: It’s all about the beans. So, she has cursed the family with infertility. Plus, she took the newborn baby girl (see above) with her.
Now, approximately 20 years later, the witch starts to regret her actions, or rather misses her lost beauty, and decides to seek out the descendents of the family (Mr. Baker, obviously born before the curse, and his wife – who seem a tad too obsessed about having a child at times) in order for them to get the ingredients for a potion that will reverse the curse.
Enter the protagonists of various fairy tales who are to deliver the ingredients: Cinderella, we want her golden slippers; Rapunzel, we really crave some of these golden locks; Jack, your milky white cow is exactly what we need; and Red Riding Hood, don’t you have such a lovely blood red cape.
Now, I mentioned that these fairy tales have a twist. For instance, have you ever wondered what happens to Cinderella and Prince Charming after they get married? Well, let me cite his Royal Highness himself: ‘I was raised to be charming, not sincere’. Once a charmer, always a charmer. That probably explains why Cinderella files for divorce after just one day of marriage – and the fact her husband made out with the baker’s wife. Damn these birds that cannot keep a secret to themselves.
And you probably have guessed it already: yes, they all meet at one point or another. With a lot of music in the back- and even more so in the foreground. That’s why we call it a musical movie after all, in case you forgot.
As a huge musical movie fan myself (follow tba* for future segments on my Musical Movie Mania), I can attest that Into the Woods is not only wonderfully entertaining and enchanting in terms of its plot but also its score and soundtrack – which in fact carries most of the story.
Besides, it even gives you something to think about: ‘Be careful what you wish for.’
Sometimes we have all these urgent desires, these wishes on our minds, because we feel as if our lives are not magical enough. There always seems to be something missing. Into the Woods shows you how much damage can arise if you wish for something that you didn’t really need. Because it certainly wasn’t a true ‘wish your heart made’ (a quote by the original Disney princess, the one and only, Snow White) but only some generic stereotypical cliché you thought you had to follow.
Maria was listening to ‘The Witch’s Rap’ from ‘Into the Woods’ while writing this review.