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Stories Retold

A review of the movie, Into The Woods.

Spoiler Alert! Read at your own risk.

If you’re looking for a movie that the kids will enjoy, you wouldn’t want to watch this movie. Not because it wasn’t a fun movie to watch but, since they largely based the stories of the characters from the original fairy tales — the dark not-so-suitable-for-children versions — it might bring your children at their wits’ end.

Firstly, I just want to put it out there that I really loved the fact that they did use the original plots for Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Red Riding Hood. Seeing certain scenes from the book — which were omitted or edited in the child-friendly versions of the stories — come to life in a fantasy movie is actually quite amusing. It was visualized with good taste. Cinderella’s stepmother cutting the heel and the toe of her stepsisters to fit the golden shoe; the witch blinding the Prince and cutting Rapunzel’s hair and exiling her to keep them away from each other; and Red and her grandmother being saved from the wolf by cutting it’s belly open. Seriously, this is dark humor at its finest.

The script was really amusing. Every time you hear the characters sing their lines, especially during the rounds, they sound really playful and happy. Quite the contrast with the dark tone of the story. The playful music plus the words with dark undertones were a good combination to keep the story as palatable to the audience as possible. However, I think the music has little variety. It worked well in keeping the multiple stories together but in terms of making the audience feel something, it seemed to be quite confusing. Unless they really just want the audience to be laughing or smirking in the course of the movie then I guess it was done well.

Another thing I have to commend was the extravagant theatrics. Personally, I think this was most evident in the sequence of the two Princes. The way they sang their lines with exaggerated tones and gestures was a sure way of captivating the audience. It was meant to be, if not the most, at least one of the most appealing parts of the movie. Although it might not have a big significance to the plot, it will surely keep the audience’s eyes on the screen.

Now, I’d like to go into a few details. As I watched the movie progress I can’t help myself but to think about figuring out who the heroes and villains are. My conclusion, I think Disney has yet again destroyed that concept of “only good” and “only evil” stereotypical characters. I believe the movie showed that each character has a good and bad side, making them more human and real. Thus, the conflicts have mostly been man versus himself, the struggle to fight your own evils and find your own happy ending.

This leads me now to another metaphor I have observed. I believe that the Woods itself is a major character in this movie. It has been the source of all major conflicts of each character, the major setting of the whole movie, it was also the path — literally and figuratively — towards their end goals, and it was both a villain and a friend. It was because of the Woods that their stories have been tied together. The Woods also posed as the source of their trials. But most importantly, the Woods has taught them all the lessons they needed to learn and helped the characters realize how to win over their personal conflicts. It made them all evolve. Now I wonder how they came up with the title, Into The Woods. 😉

The Witch is another story. Besides the fact that it was magnificently portrayed by none other than Meryl Streep, the character somehow managed to keep the other characters’ act together. I see her as their conscience. Together with the Woods, they were able to help the characters realize their strengths and weaknesses and made them learn to accept them, and also find their path to the real happy ending — real as opposed to the fairy-tale happily-ever-after one.

However, I was a bit dismayed for some characters for the lack of closure in their stories. I guess there were just too many of them to fit in the spotlight.

I’m giving the movie a rating of 8/10. It was truly enjoyable to watch. On that note, I would like to wrap up this post with a quote from The Witch which I really liked and it goes, “Children can only grow from something you love to something you lose…”

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