As some of you know, my favorite musical of all time is Into the Woods, with music by Sondheim and book by Lapine. I’ve loved Into the Woods since I was in Middle School, seen it performed multiple times at all levels (community theatre to original Broadway cast (I think)) and even performed in it as the Narrator and the Baker. So, when the movie was announced, I was hesitant, to say the least.
On Thursday night, I saw the movie and enjoyed it. They did a good job of capturing the spirit of the story and translating that into a beautiful film. The lighting was stunning and they did a great job of making the giant seem big without ever showing the full size of the giant. When it comes to musical numbers, the filmmakers nailed Agony, almost nailed No One is Alone, and did a good job on most of the other numbers. One of the interesting choices they made with a couple of songs from the musical (Cinderella at the Grave and No More) was to play the melody from the musical under the visual of the actor in the film who wasn’t singing the words. I cringed at this both times, but I can understand the choice.
The filmmakers make two interesting choices in explicitly stating a couple of things that are assumed in the musical. (Spoilers begin here) They have the witch explicitly state that the four items (cow as white as milk, cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and slipper as pure as gold) that the baker and his wife have to gather to reverse their curse will also reverse her curse. They also explain the necessity of the three days time in the film, which isn’t explained in the musical. Also, the witch states several times before the final feeding of the four items to Milky White, that she can’t have touched any of them. I don’t believe this is stated in the musical until the cow won’t produce milk. These are interesting choices, which take a bit of the magic away, in my opinion.
All in all, it’s a great film, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the musical.
P.S. I wrote most of this back on January 11th, but didn’t manage to post until today. Not quite sure why…