Into The Woods
Sing a song of Sondheim
Release Date: 18 May 2014 | PG | Blu- ray/ DVD Director: Rob Marshall Cast: James Corden, Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, Lilla Crawford
be tricky things to translate onto screen – while there are plenty of showstopping movie versions, they’ve more often been the preserve of Disney- lite children’s films than the emotional intensities seen on stage. And Stephen Sondheim is worlds away from “lite”, so can a film version of one of his most treasured works make it on the screen? With a screenplay by original writer James Lapine, it can.
The plot is a mish- mash of all your favourite fairy stories. A baker and his wife learn the reason for their childlessness is a curse put on his family by a witch ( Meryl Streep). In order to lift it, they must bring back a red cape ( guess whose), yellow hair ( let down from a tower, maybe?), a golden shoe ( like one left on the palace steps) and a milkwhite cow, here offered for sale by a young lad named Jack. The first half of the film deals with the couple’s travels through the woods as they interact with all the classic stories.
There’s a tonal shift for the second half of the tale, and it’s this that many non- Sondheim fans struggle with. The film’s version isn’t quite as brutal as the original, but still, no one gets their hoped- for happy ending. That’s not a bad thing, though, and a grittier reality in which actions have consequences, and even giants leave behind people that mourn them, makes for a more mature, sophisticated take on often- saccharine fairytales.
It’s pretty perfectly cast, too – James Corden and Emily Blunt are compelling as the heart of the story, though Corden’s voice isn’t really strong enough for his dual role as narrator. New Captain Kirk Chris Pine proves himself a considerably better singer than William Shatner as one of the princes, while Anna Kendrick adds charm as an indecisive Cinderella. Not really one for kids, but adults are in for a treat.
Extras: Commentary by the director and a producer; an extra song, cut from the film; five further brief deleted scenes; a Making Of ( 29 minutes); two featurettes ( 22 minutes). Rhian Drinkwater
There is a more child- friendly version of the original for school performances, which leaves out the darker second half.
A mish- mash of all your favourite fairy stories
The leaf- collectors strike infuriated everyone.