Into the Woods
starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Lilla Crawford and Daniel Huttlestone
screenplay by James Lapine
directed by Rob Marshall
Based on the musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, Into the Woods is a clever mix of four famous fairy tales: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstock, and Rapunzel. It’s a musical. I didn’t know that when I rented it. If you like musicals you mightl enjoy it. But I dislike most musicals, and by the time Into the Woods was half finished I began to fall asleep with the sheer criminal boredom of it. Then I began to jump ahead in the DVD ahead just to get through the miserable thing. Admittedly, Meryl Streep delivers an outstanding performance as the witch who sends a barren couple into the woods to collect certain items for her, with the promise that if they deliver she will raise her own curse that is preventing them from conceiving. The items are the ingredients for a spell that will restore her youth and beauty. During their forays into the forest the couple repeatedly encounter others: the girl with the red hood visiting her grandmother; the boy who sold his cow for some magic beans; the tormented stepdaughter who secretly attends a royal ball; and the beautiful long-haired girls held captive in a tower.
Fairy tales are deliberately, calculatedly scary stories for children. They are morality plays, and Into the Woods ends with the moral to be careful what you wish for. The road of wishful living leads to disaster.
Johnny Depp plays the Wolf in the Little Red Riding Hood tale. In Japanese he is called “akuma,” meaning Devil, or at least Demon. I’m not sure if that’s correct, though. I never thought of the Wolf as the personification of the Devil. Evil, certainly, but I always thought of him as the evil of a dangerous world, not Satan himself.
“The cow as white as mile, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, the slipper as pure as gold.”
“Though scary is exciting, nice is different than good.”
“The woods can be a dangerous place.”
“Why are we always separating? Because we have to if we’re going to be together."