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Will Disney’s INTO THE WOODS Be TOO Kid Friendly?

Once upon a time Walt Disney was known for being unafraid to scare the bejeezus out of little kids. In films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Fantasia, the animation pioneer and the studio he created conjured up moments that wouldn’t be all that out of place in a horror movie. But since that Golden Age of the ’30s and ’40s, Disney has come to be known for a kind of family entertainment that, with few exceptions, is nightmare free. Unfortunately, that means the brand is making its mark on the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s beloved Broadway musical Into the Woods.

Variety reports that “to make the pic more family-friendly, Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) will not die. The film will also be less sexual as Cinderella’s Prince (Chris Pine) won’t sleep with the Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt) and the relationship between Big Bad Wolf (Johnny Depp) and Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) won’t be sexually laced.”

What’s particularly distressing to this longtime Sondheim fan, however, is that the composer himself, recently speaking before a group of high school drama teachers, has said, “You will find in the movie that Rapunzel does not get killed and the prince does not sleep with the [Baker's Wife] … You know, if I were a Disney executive, I probably would say the same thing… Censorship is part of our puritanical ethics… There has to be a point at which you don’t compromise anymore, but that may mean that you won’t get anyone to sell your painting or perform your musical. You have to deal with reality.”

It’s uncertain how these plot changes will affect the songs buoyed by the excised moments. But Variety states that “the song ‘Any Moment’ performed during Prince Charming and the Baker’s Wife’s tryst will ‘probably’ be cut. It’s unclear what will happen to ‘Lament,’ which the Witch (Meryl Streep) sings after Rapunzel dies, and ‘Moments in the Woods,’ which the Baker’s Wife’s belts out after the Prince leaves. The film will feature two new songs that Sondheim penned with James Lapine.”

What do you think, Sondheim fans? Will these changes ruin Into the Woods or merely shape it into a form different from the one we know?

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10 comments

  • Ha! If they wanted to leave it out then just do the Jr. version aka Act I. Act II is where everything gets turned upside down and all the fun happens.

  • I think disney needs to leave stuff alone. They need to keep their hands out of a lot of things or just do it right and NOT make it a kids movie.

  • Into the woods is a great play. One of my school teachers started a drama class and did the Junior version of this play with no sexual parts in it. Even though Disney is in a family friendly production field, they should face the truth that this play is bloody and sexual… It’s just reality.

  • Having performed in the production as the Wolf, I can very much understand lowering the sexual overtones (believe you me my director wanted me to but the way the song and acting plays out, it’s damn well hard not to). I do think making it more family friendly will effect the film negatively though; it’s a film about the dark truth behind fairy tales especially the whole, “Happily ever after… later.”

  • I don’t know.  As a drama student, listening to Mr. S. explain about the need to compromise your artwork in a realistic soceity, I would have to belt out “How did you get there from here, Mr. Sondheim?”

  • Rapunzel ran away because the Witch was overprotective and shielded her from the realities of the world. We all know how that ended. . . With twins out of wedlock and being crushed by a giant’s foot. S’all I’m sayin’.