Into the woods–you have to grope,
But that’s the way you learn to cope.
Into the woods to find there’s hope
Of getting through the journey.
Into the woods, each time you go,
There’s more to learn of what you know.
From Into the Woods
Scott Foundas, Variety, describes the characters and plot of Rob Marshall‘s Into the Woods, the movie version of the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine play:
The lineup includes a humble baker (the very appealing James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), whose bake shop is frequented by a bratty, shoplifting Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), and who live next door to a haggard old witch (Meryl Streep) with many axes to grind. Long ago, the witch abducted the baker’s infant sister, Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), and cursed the baker himself with sterile genes — punishment for the sins of his estranged father (who stole magic beans from the witch’s garden, once upon a time). But the curse can be reversed, the witch announces, provided the baker and his wife procure the necessary ingredients in the span of 72 hours: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold.
It is that quest which leads the childless couple into said woods, and into contact with all manner of fellow travelers running to or away from something: the farm boy Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), reluctantly off to market to sell his beloved but milk-dry cow; Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), giving chase to a confounded Prince Charming (Chris Pine); and Little Red herself, weighing mother’s advice about strangers against the dandyish charms of a certain Mr. Wolf (a lip-smacking Johnny Depp, in slanted fedora and a kind of hirsute smoking jacket).
Themes and Psychology in Into the Woods
As the ads for Into the Woods declare, “Be careful what you wish for.”
Kat Brown, Telegraph: “Besides its themes of loss and uncertainty, the show’s main message — underlined by the show stopper ‘No One Is Alone’ — is about the importance of community.”
Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Psychology Today:
As explained in an article by the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s Ace G. Pilkington, composer Stephen Sondheim built Jungian themes into the musical. Jung himself regarded fairy tales as centering on what he called ‘archetypes’ involving such characters as heroes (the princes), tricksters (the wolf), and evil (the giant). However, it’s the woods themselves that serve as the main transformative agent. As people explore the woods, they explore their own underlying identities.
The Beginning and Middle Vs. the Ending
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap: “The first half of ‘Into the Woods’ follows the pursuit of ‘happily ever after,’ but the second half asks what comes after, and at what price do we pursue our wishes, and wonders whether we should have wished for those things in the first place. It’s a tricky shift in tone, but screenwriter James Lapine nails the transition as skillfully on screen as he did in the original stage production.”
David Edelstein, Vulture: “…I’m only half-kidding when I suggest that you see the movie but leave (especially if you have kids) at what’s obviously the end of the first act. You’ll still get the dissonances, ambiguities, and portents of doom, along with much that is pure enchantment. And you won’t leave thinking the movie had been made by the Big Bad Wolf.”
Susan Wloszczyna, rogerebert.com: “Eventually, everyone’s wish comes true in one form or another. Then, in the final act, everything falls apart…Death, infidelity, disillusionment and finger-pointing eventually result in a communal healing process that certainly will ring true to audiences who are regularly exposed to such real-life aftermaths in the wake of tragic disasters both natural and man-made these days.”
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “With archness and irony, ‘Into the Woods’ goes deeper into the fairy stories, allowing us to see familiar archetypes in new and not so flattering ways.”
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