Media Life Crisis Blog

Into the Woods: Witches can be right

I'm a huge fan of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods, which is coming out as a major movie event this December. I have my doubts about this movie version — most notably how the first trailer tried to hide the fact that it's a musical — but  I recently came across a review I wrote 20+ years ago after first seeing the stage version. I didn't like it for the exact same reason I now find it quite brilliant. If you're open to musicals, it's one that may require a 2nd viewing.

dorrk, Wednesday, 12 November 2014 19:39","text_style":"meta","text_align":"center"}}]}, {"name": "","type": "column","props": {"image_position": "center-center","widths": [""]},"children": [{"name": "Media Links","type": "button","props": {"gutter": "small","margin": "default","button_size": "small","text_align": "right"},"children": [{"name": "","type": "button_item","props": {"button_style": "","icon_align": "left","content": "Video","link": "#watchvideo","link_target": true,"link_title": "Watch Video","icon": "youtube"}},{"name": "","type": "button_item","props": {"button_style": "","icon_align": "left","content": "","link": "#the-footer","link_target": true,"link_title": "","icon": "arrow-down"}}]}]}]}]}, {"name": "Main","type": "section","props": {"style": "default","width": "default","image_position": "center-center","padding_remove_top": true,"vertical_align": "middle","title_position": "top-left","title_rotation": "left","title_breakpoint": "xl"},"children": [{"name": "","type": "row","props": {"fixed_width": "large","breakpoint": "m","layout": "2-3,"},"children": [{"name": "","type": "column","props": {"image_position": "center-center","widths": ["2-3"]},"children": [{"name": "","type": "quotation","props": {"content": ""Into the Woods" may need a 2nd chance.","text_align": "","animation": "slide-bottom-small"}},{"name": "Review","type": "text","props": {"column_breakpoint": "m","margin": "default","content": "

I'm a huge fan of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods, which is coming out as a major movie event this December. I have my doubts about this movie version — most notably how the first trailer tried to hide the fact that it's a musical — but  I recently came across a review I wrote 20+ years ago after first seeing the stage version. I didn't like it for the exact same reason I now find it quite brilliant. If you're open to musicals, it's one that may require a 2nd viewing.

The conceit of Into the Woods is that Sondheim and playwright James Lapine take several classic fairy tales, intertwine them, and examine the lessons and moral dilemmas that arise after their traditional endings.

My initial objection to the play was that the first act is so fun and successful at wrapping up the original story arcs with a rousing "Happy after after!" exclamation, that the substantive, introspective second act felt like a rude system shock smothering a piece of chocolate in bitter medicine. I was so caught up in the craft of the first act, that I was closed off to the purpose of the entire play.

However, a few years later, when I revisited the Original Cast Recording, I was braced for this shift and was therefore able to appreciate how incredibly well realized and executed it all is. Now, when I listen to the soundtrack and watch the video production of the Broadway stage version with Bernadette Peters and Chip Zien, many of my favorite moments occur during the morally challenging conclusion.

I have no doubt that movie audiences are going to have a similar initial reaction this winter, unless director Rob Marshall manages an ingenious re-write. If this new movie version turns out to be worthy of the stage production, you still may need to see it twice before you'll like it.

"}},{"name": "Trailer Head","type": "headline","props": {"title_element": "h3","content": "Trailer for Witches can be right","title_style": "h3","id": "watchvideo"}},{"name": "","type": "video","props": {"margin": "default","video": "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pjy5MK1X70","video_width": "960","video_height": "540","video_box_shadow": "xlarge","video_box_shadow_bottom": true}},{"name": "","type": "divider","props": {"divider_element": "hr"}}, {"name": "SocialSearch","type": "social","props": {"link_style": "button","gutter": "small","margin": "default","links": ["https:\/\/twitter.com\/hashtag\/IntoTheWoods?src=hash", "https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/explore\/tags\/IntoTheWoods\/", "https:\/\/www.facebook.com\/hashtag\/IntoTheWoods?source=feed_text", "https:\/\/plus.google.com\/u\/0\/s\/IntoTheWoods"],"link_target": true}}, {"name": "","type": "divider","props": {"divider_element": "hr"}}, {"name": "TheRattlersDen","type": "gallery","props": {"show_title": false,"show_meta": false,"show_content": false,"show_link": true,"show_hover_image": false,"grid_default": "6","grid_medium": "6","overlay_mode": "cover","overlay_hover": true,"overlay_style": "","text_color": "light","overlay_position": "left","overlay_transition": "fade","title_element": "h3","meta_style": "meta","meta_align": "bottom","text_align": "left","margin": "default","grid_xlarge": "6","grid_large": "6","grid_small": "6","gutter": "collapse","image_transition": "scale-up","overlay_padding": "","image_box_shadow": "","divider": false,"id": "RattlersDen","image_width": "33","image_height": "33","overlay_maxwidth": "","maxwidth": "medium","item_animation": "fade"},"children": [{"name": "","type": "gallery_item","props": {"image": "files\/images\/logos\/popgap.jpg","image_alt": "PopGap","title": "PopGap","link": "http:\/\/medialifecrisis.com\/"}}, {"name": "","type": "gallery_item","props": {"image": "files\/images\/logos\/wire.jpg","image_alt": "Wire Creative Web Site Management","title": "Wire Creative Web Site Support","link": "http:\/\/wirecreative.com\/"}}, {"name": "","type": "gallery_item","props": {"image": "files\/images\/logos\/leathergump.jpg","image_alt": "Dorrk","title": "Dorrk","link": "https:\/\/www.google.com\/search?q=dorrk"}}, {"name": "","type": "gallery_item","props": {"image": "files\/images\/logos\/dorrk.jpg","image_alt": "Dorrk Dot com","title": "Dorrk Dot com","link": "http:\/\/dorrk.com\/"}}, {"name": "","type": "gallery_item","props": {"image": "files\/images\/logos\/gimp.jpg","image_alt": "Santa's Li'l Gimp","title": "Santa's Li'l Gimp","link": "http:\/\/santaslilgimp.com\/"}}, {"name": "","type": "gallery_item","props": {"image": "files\/images\/logos\/godfather.jpg","image_alt": "The Godfather","title": "The Godfather","link": "http:\/\/amzn.to\/2vjqL6J"}}]}]}, {"name": "","type": "column","props": {"image_position": "center-center","widths": [""]},"children": [{"name": "Poster","type": "image","props": {"margin": "default","image": "/files/images/articles/201412/Into-the-Woods-2014/Into-the-Woods-2014-03.jpg"}},{"name": "Buy Buttons","type": "button","props": {"gutter": "small","margin": "default"},"children": [{"name": "","type": "button_item","props": {"button_style": "primary","icon_align": "left","content": "Buy on Amazon","link": "http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004VWXUWS/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004VWXUWS&linkCode=as2&tag=wirecreative-20&linkId=ERXKBZWTPAD6WXVK","link_target": "blank","icon": "cart","link_title": "Buy Into the Woods on Amazon"}},{"name": "","type": "button_item","props": {"button_style": "primary","icon_align": "left","content": "Search Streams","link": "http://gowatchit.com/search?terms=Witches+can+be+right","link_target": "blank","icon": "search","link_title": "Search for streams of Into the Woods "}},{"name": "","type": "button_item","props": {"button_style": "primary","icon_align": "left","content": "Search More","link": "https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Witches+can+be+right","link_target": "blank","icon": "search","link_title": "Search for Into the Woods Merch"}}]}, {"name": "Info Buttons","type": "button","props": {"gutter": "small","margin": "default","button_size": "small","fullwidth": false},"children": [{"name": "","type": "button_item","props": {"button_style": "secondary","icon_align": "left","content": " IMDb","link": "http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2180411/combined","link_target": "blank","icon": "info","link_title": "Into the Woods on IMDb"}},{"name": "","type": "button_item","props": {"button_style": "secondary","icon_align": "left","content": "Search Google","link": "https:\/\/www.google.com\/search?q=Into the Woods +2014","link_target": "blank","icon": "google","link_title": "Search Google for Into the Woods "}}, {"name": "","type": "button_item","props": {"button_style": "secondary","icon_align": "left","content": "Search YouTube","link": "https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/results?search_query=Into the Woods +2014","link_target": "blank","icon": "youtube","link_title": "Search YouTube for Into the Woods "}}]}, {"name": "Podcast Buttons","type": "button","props": {"gutter": "small","margin": "default","button_size": "small"},"children": [{"name": "","type": "button_item","props": {"button_style": "secondary","icon_align": "left","content": "Search Podcasts","link": "https:\/\/www.google.com\/search?q=podcast+Into the Woods +2014","link_title": "Search Podcasts for Into the Woods ","link_target": "blank","icon": "search"}}]}, {"name": "Tags Head","type": "headline","props": {"title_element": "h4","content": "Tags","title_style": "h4"}}, {"name": "","type": "html","props": {"content": " Movies Musical Movies Music Stephen Sondheim "}}, {"name": "Similar Items","type": "joomla_module","props": {"module": "223","type": "mod_tags_similar","margin": "medium","title_style": "h4"}}, {"name": "Project Index","type": "joomla_module","props": {"module": "219","type": "mod_tags_similar","margin": "medium","title_style": "h4"}}, {"name": "Sidebar Ads","type": "joomla_position","props": {"layout": "stack","breakpoint": "m","content": "insert-sidebar-ads","grid_divider": false,"grid_gutter": "medium","margin": "medium"}}]}]}]}]} -->

Tags: Movies Musical Movies Music Stephen Sondheim

The Top 20 Movies of All-Time

#1: The Godfather Part II (1974)

#1: The Godfather Part II (1974)

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
#2: The Godfather (1972)

#2: The Godfather (1972)

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
#3: West Side Story (1961)

#3: West Side Story (1961)

Dir: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise
#4: Manhattan (1979)

#4: Manhattan (1979)

Dir: Woody Allen
#5: The Graduate (1967)

#5: The Graduate (1967)

Dir: Mike Nichols
#6: Tootsie (1982)

#6: Tootsie (1982)

Dir: Sydney Pollack
#7: Apocalypse Now (1979)

#7: Apocalypse Now (1979)

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
#8: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

#8: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Dir: Irvin Kershner
#9: Star Wars (1977)

#9: Star Wars (1977)

Dir: George Lucas
#10: The Exorcist (1973)

#10: The Exorcist (1973)

Dir: William Friedkin
#11: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

#11: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Dir: Peter Jackson
#12: Taxi Driver (1976)

#12: Taxi Driver (1976)

Dir: Martin Scorsese
#13: Annie Hall (1977)

#13: Annie Hall (1977)

Dir: Woody Allen
#14: Vertigo (1958)

#14: Vertigo (1958)

Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
#15: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

#15: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Dir: Steven Spielberg
#16: Boogie Nights (1997)

#16: Boogie Nights (1997)

Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson
#17: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

#17: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Dir: Tobe Hooper
#18: It's a Wonderful Life (1944)

#18: It's a Wonderful Life (1944)

Dir: Frank Capra
#19: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

#19: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Dir: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
#20: Zodiac (2007)

#20: Zodiac (2007)

Dir: David Fincher