Into the Woods

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Into the Woods

Post by Dan » June 20th, 2014, 1:30 am

For those who don't know, Disney is putting out the long awaited film adaptation of the hit stage musical "Into the Woods" by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Lapine is writing the screenplay and Sondheim is contributing new music and songs. It is being directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tide) and set to be released on Christmas this year.

The film features an ensemble cast: James Corden (Gavin & Stacey, One Man Two Guvnors) as The Baker, Emily Blunt (Gnomeo & Juliet, Edge of Tomorrow) as The Baker's Wife, Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Fantastic Mr. Fox) as The Witch, Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) as Cinderella, Daniel Huttlestone (Les Miserables) as Jack, Lilla Crawford (Little Miss Perfect) as Red Riding Hood, MacKenzie Mauzy (The Bold and the Beautiful, Drop Dead Diva) as Rapunzel, Chris Pine (Star Trek, Rise of the Guardians) as Cinderella's Prince, Billy Magnussen (As the World Turns, The Lost Valentine) as Rapunzel's Prince, Tracey Ullman (Corpse Bride, Robin Hood: Men in Tights) as Jack's Mother, Frances de la Tour (Harry Potter, The History Boys) as the Giant, Christine Baranski (The Good Wife, The Big Bang Theory) as Cinderella's Step-Mother, and Johnny Depp as The Big Bad Wolf.

Disney putting the film version of the show out was itself quite controversial, given the show's dark and mature themes. But then Sondheim, speaking to a group of drama teachers in New York, revealed just how much more controversial it's going to get.

Hidden because of spoilers.
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As first reported by the New Yorker, a middle school teacher expressed her concern about the mature material in the play, which she has been thinking about staging with her students.

"So what is the objection?" Sondheim asked.

"Infidelity, a wolf being lascivious, that the whole connection with Red Riding Hood is sexual."

"Well, you’ll be happy to know that Disney had the same objections," Sondheim stated. Sure enough, he elaborated. "You will find in the movie that Rapunzel does not get killed, and [Cinderella's] prince does not sleep with the baker’s wife."

The teachers gasped in shock while Sondheim shrugged and added, "You know, if I were a Disney executive I would probably say the same thing." It has also noted that the relationship between The Wolf and Red Riding Hood pulls back on the sexual overtones.

And since Rapunzel is not going to die, what's going to happen to the song "Any Moment"? "The song is cut." When the teachers cried, Sondheim rephrased it as "I’m sorry, I should say, it’s probably cut." He noted that he and Lapine came up with a new song to cover the big plot change.

The article also finds Sondheim not only accepting the changes being made, but also seemingly defending them, so it is worth reading.
To say fans are not happy about these major plot changes is an understatement as message boards and comment boxes across the web have exploded with outrage.

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Re: Into the Woods

Post by droosan » June 20th, 2014, 2:31 am

Considering that 'The Disney Version' of any famous fairy-tale or children's story is meticulously scrubbed to squeaky-cleanliness by comparison with the originals, I don't see how this could be unexpected. :|

Since Disney has apparently done this in collaboration with the original writer -- and that creator seems to be 'cool' with the changes -- well .. it's honestly hard to see what I'm supposed to be 'outraged' about. :?

It's not as if stage productions of Into the Woods will be forced to implement the 'Disney-fied' changes, from here on out. No one from Disney has gone around stealing every copy of the 1991 PBS television program from people's home-video collections. :wink:

---------------

Cabaret the movie is rather different from the original Broadway production (several different songs, a much darker tone, etc) ... The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy seems to undergo subtle and sweeping changes in each new medium it enters (there again: with the original creator's blessing & involvement) ... Batman has been portrayed as everything from grim to goofy, in a dozen different iterations of TV & film.

I'm just saying, there's more than one way to tell any story .. but Disney is well-known for having their own particular way. They aim for general 'all-ages' audiences, with minimal offensiveness. They wouldn't put the Disney label on the film, if it were otherwise.

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Re: Into the Woods

Post by Buzz Bumble » June 20th, 2014, 3:27 am

Part of the problem is the massive egos in Hollyweird where far too many of them think they know better than the person who had the actual talent to create the original. :(

Sometimes things are changed because they simply won't work in a TV / movie format ... which begs the question, why did they stupidly decide to try to make it in the first place.

Sometimes they have to "dumb it down" ... whether that's because it's aimed at kids or because it's aimed at the general braindead public.

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Re: Into the Woods

Post by Ben » June 20th, 2014, 5:40 am

While I do think Disney knew what it was buying when it bought Into The Woods and should therefore stage the film closer to the original intent, practically no movie version of a stage musical has ever been translated in a direct way. Usually plot points that work on stage work better differently on film and for any number of reasons things can be switched around, cut or changed.

In this case, though, I wish the movie had been put out under the Touchstone label so as to retain more of the original, although with their current fairytale success it's obvious why they want to slap the Disney name on it too. As a huge Sondheim fan I'm pleased he's good with and working on the changes (not for the first time working for Disney), although the promise of an Oscar probably didn't hurt in persuading him.

Since Academy nominated songs must be original to the movie they're from, this is why every film translation of a stage musical has a new song shoehorned in (You Must Love Me in Evita, Suddenly in Les Miserables), so the promise of Disney promoting the new one for Oscar consideration must have been tempting. You mark my words...in a category devoid of true "score songs", Steve will be on that stage next year clutching his own golden statuette. However good or bad the song is, who's going to vote against Sondheim?

And about time too! :)

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Re: Into the Woods

Post by Dan » June 20th, 2014, 9:46 am

I particularly like how Sondheim defended the changes. There's clear understanding and acceptance of why it had to be done and his willingness to work with it.

What's known about the new songs is that one will be called "Rainbows" and a second will be sung by The Witch.

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Re: Into the Woods

Post by eddievalient » June 20th, 2014, 10:39 am

Before now, my main concern was that the powerful, moving second act wouldn't be there at all due to how grim(m) it is compared to the much more Disney-like act one. Even if Disney did chicken out by removing a couple of things, if the second act is there, that's a good thing.

However, considering how horribly they @#%!ed up Maleficent to make it "more like Frozen" (those who've seen it know what I'm talking about), now I'm worried they'll do the same thing here. I would like to think that STEPHEN FREAKING SONDHEIM would have enough pull to prevent that from happening, but I just don't know anymore. I'm calling it now, if you hear talk of reshoots to "improve" the film (which I should have known was a bad sign when they did it for Maleficent), expect the worst.
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Re: Into the Woods

Post by James » June 20th, 2014, 10:47 am

Don't we already have a thread on this show?

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Re: Into the Woods

Post by EricJ » June 20th, 2014, 9:02 pm

eddievalient wrote:However, considering how horribly they @#%!ed up Maleficent to make it "more like Frozen" (those who've seen it know what I'm talking about), now I'm worried they'll do the same thing here. I would like to think that STEPHEN FREAKING SONDHEIM would have enough pull to prevent that from happening
The worst we have to fear is Disney going Once Upon A Time on the material, which is how it got into production in the first place.
Here, as for SFS:
The article also finds Sondheim not only accepting the changes being made, but also seemingly defending them, so it is worth reading.
(Quick, go tell him he's wrong about his own play!)
droosan wrote:It's not as if stage productions of Into the Woods will be forced to implement the 'Disney-fied' changes, from here on out. No one from Disney has gone around stealing every copy of the 1991 PBS television program from people's home-video collections. :wink:.
Exactly: Very few musicals have made it to the screen intact, and most of the loopier changes weren't even because of questionable content. (Why Columbia dropped half the songs out of Bye Bye Birdie, just to put in a goofy special-effects subplot, will forever remain a mystery.)
I can think of a half-dozen bonehead mistakes Tim Burton made with Sweeney Todd, and that was considered one of his better movies. And, oh, let's not even start on either bigscreen Annie, black or white.

But then, it's Disney, so it must be Evil--I didn't see anyone picketing MGM when the film version of The Fantasticks cut out "The Rape Song", and replaced it with a new song clarifying the definition of "theatrical abductions".
(But they were sheltering audiences from harsh realities of the world!! :roll: )

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Re: Into the Woods

Post by Dan » June 23rd, 2014, 8:37 pm

It would seem that Sondheim is making some clarifications about his comments from last week. In particular that a couple of the things thought to have been cut will apparently be left in tact.

Article (with spoilers): http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/06/23/s ... the-woods/

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Re: Into the Woods

Post by Dan » August 2nd, 2014, 11:50 pm

Didn't see it on the front page, so here's the trailer that's been posted by Disney.


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Re: Into the Woods

Post by Ben » August 3rd, 2014, 5:15 pm

While I'm loving this, I'd have liked to have seen the following text card after "from the director of Chicago" and "from the producer of Wicked"..."and the legendary composer of Sweeney Todd" (or whichever would fit the bill, since Sondheim and the fact that this is a complete musical is very much overlooked in the attempt to be the next Maleficent.

I'm also worried that this looks too similar...just because one film worked, promoting another with many of the same visual ideas might look too...desperate? And it would be a shame if audiences confused the two (for the right reasons and some wrong too) just because the marketing wanted to make the film look like something it isn't in a bid to be successful.

That all said, I'm still truly hoping for this to be a huge hit! :)

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Re: Into the Woods

Post by eddievalient » August 3rd, 2014, 8:36 pm

I really hope this isn't another Maleficent. Maleficent was horrible. Thankfully, it wasn't an earth-shattering ginormous hit so we may be lucky enough not to see any more like it.
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Re: Into the Woods

Post by Ben » August 3rd, 2014, 10:53 pm

Well, it *was* (at over $700m), and we *will* (sequels have been mooted already)...

But, no, this really isn't another Maleficent...!

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Re: Into the Woods

Post by Ben » October 24th, 2014, 10:28 am

New featurette doesn't exactly shy away from the music, but still doesn't want wider audiences to think it's a full-on, through-sung, songs-on-songs musical:

http://bcove.me/4fgb00e2

I am, however, liking the look here, whatever one thinks of Depp's Tex Avery Wolf. It could be that Disney are actually being pretty smart and attempting to push this towards the Maleficent crowd, since most will probably assume that what Streep sings a bit of here is just a Witch's little tune...?

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Re: Into the Woods

Post by Dan » December 28th, 2014, 6:01 pm

Got to see the film this morning. And having seen a production of the show at the Old Globe Theater over the summer and the pro-shot featuring the original Broadway cast, I was obviously going to note the differences and changes.

The film is quite striking visually. Director Rob Marshall and cinematographer Dion Beebe (in their fourth collaboration) created the right atmosphere with the way they shot and lit the film. It worked just right from a storytelling standpoint and did well to keep pace with the musical sequences.

The casting was very well made. Meryl Streep is being tapped for another Oscar nod and she earned it, though I think she was missing some of the sass the character had when performed by Bernadette Peters and others. Chris Pine performed Cinderella's Prince beautifully, projecting the right amount of over-the-top to make it hysterical in the best way (his performance of "Agony" with Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel's Prince was just fantastic). Lilla Crawford and Daniel Huttlestone as Red Riding Hood and Jack respectively stood out quite well, James Corden, Emily Blunt, and Anna Kendrick worked just right in performing The Baker, The Baker's Wife, and Cinderella respectively. Johnny Depp clearly looked like he was having fun as The Wolf.

Story-wise, the film is quite faithful. There was hardly any sugar-coating maintaining the dark aspect of the original show. I can only think of one change that was a striking difference from the show, though I'm still figuring just how much of an impact it had on the overall story. Otherwise, the other changes were a bit minimal, thus it's not really different from the show in presentation.

Overall, I think the film is very good and a fine adaptation. I like that it's on its way to being a box office hit (the opening weekend numbers are projected to exceed expectations) and some of its potential for a presence at the Oscars is nice to have.

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