The Pitch : the witch, the little red riding hood, Jack, the baker and his wife, the wolf, rapunzel, prince charming… These fairy tale characters are found in a common adventure.
INTO THE WOODS is a musical comedy, as the film expresses its purpose by means which are more musical than film.
It is thus necessary to pay particular attention to these songs, as much more than illustrative or entertaining, they ARE the film, the main interest.
Hence the importance of Rob Marshall to the realization, the man bringing his experience as a stage director and choreographer of musicals. He makes these (very) many musical numbers of climax, successive, overly theatrical and aesthetic, giving the film a relentless rhythm, provided they are sensitive to this kind of show.
The songs are the real characters of the film, each personifying an emotion very distinct. The actors, therefore, embody a character, but beyond that, are the performers of the songs – a double role ensured with more or less success.
Meryl Streep (witch), Emily Blunt (the baker) and two kids , Daniel Huttlestone (Jack) and Lilla Crawford (Little Red riding Hood) are the most convincing, for example. Chris Pine (prince Charming), Anna Kendrick (Cinderella) and James Corden (the baker) are more expressive in songs, Tracey Ullman in his character. Finally, Mackenzie Mauzy (Rapunzel) is completely transparent… well as Johnny Depp as a Wolf.
Seeming to have been entirely filmed in the studio and with very little additions digital, the artistic direction offers a dark atmosphere based on a very real, palpable : lighting, costumes, set design.
Fortunately, because on the other side, the story of INTO THE WOODS is very incidental, and the universe in which the characters live, very little developed.
In spite of a form of realism off-topic, the movie has this very cold, no empathy. But the idea is not really to immerse the viewer, but rather to present an entertainment in which the goal would be, taking the distance necessary to present a comprehensive overview of the human nature.
Because as said above, each song personifies an emotion… And it seemed to me that INTO THE WOODS was trying to deconstruct, misrepresent the nature of storytelling, and build a sort of film-brain musical made up of shades, a variety of topics, interactions and new.
During the first few minutes, it is familiar ground. Each character is thus presented – in agreement with the general idea that one has of them, through a song. Then, by injunction story, they must go in “The Woods“. This is where that really starts the film : these “woods“ are home to an amazing schizophrenia, a constant redefinition of their personalities, and therefore of the issues of the film. These twists (very many ) always have a place in song, and each song defines, therefore, a new emotion.
“two ways to see Into The Woods : a Disney musical fool, or a film-brain of a complexity surprising”
INTO THE WOODS takes a branched structure, a common idea, tends to this complexity is to define a soul, a heart. If so, towards the beginning of the film, the tone is very manichean, good-evil, courage, fear, etc, the characters positive gradually revealed themselves very complex, and express the themes mature and varied such as : the redefinition of the feeling of love by parenting, the mother and father, greed (emotional, economic, social), the desire (sexual), manipulation…
Very interesting, even if this is done at the expense of any readability : the movie in the end, appears to be ultra-fast-paced as composed of nearly thirty musical numbers – all exciting in itself as expressing something different… But it is also incredibly messy ; difficult to be passionate about the story, since it is almost non-existent, in spite of a few bursts scriptwriting bringing together artificially, and all the characters.
The interest of INTO THE WOODS is also, in the antithesis of a Disney classic, themes much more mature than usual… And the songs!!!
Sufficiently surprising that you are interested in.
The other outputs of the January 28, 2015
– TRAILER #1 (Between Avengers and Evil ?)
– TRAILER #2 (Ah, but this is a comedy musical !)
• Original title : Into the Woods
• Production : Rob Marshall
• Scenario : James Lapine, based on the work of Stephen Sondheim
• Main actors : Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, James Corden
• Country of origin : U. S. A.
• Released : January 28, 2015
• Duration : 2h4min
• Distributor : The Walt Disney Company France
• Synopsis : The plots of several fairy tales well known to intersect in order to explore the desires, the dreams and the quests of all the characters. Cinderella, Little red riding Hood, Jack and the beanstalk and Rapunzel, all together in a story which also involved a baker and his wife who hope to start a family, but a witch has cast an evil spell…