This Christmas, Disney is bringing the beloved Sondheim musical “Into the Woods” to the big screen. A slew of stars are already on board for the project, including Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, and Emily Blunt.
The famous family-friendly characters (some not unfamiliar to Disney canon) such as Cinderella and Rapunzel are in the story, but the musical takes a grim turn with themes of death and infidelity. There’s also the not so subtle allegory for sexual awakening in Little Red’s solo “I Know Things Now” after meeting the Wolf.
Sondheim spoke during an Academy for Teachers event where high school theatre teachers discussed that very scene. It seems that the Wolf and Little Red scene does not just give high schools trouble, but also Disney executives. The Wolf’s hunger for Little Red has an undercurrent of sexuality that Disney objected to.
Sondheim elaborated on other Disney changes, “You will find in the movie that Rapunzel does not get killed, and the prince does not sleep with the Baker’s Wife.” He also stated that the song “Any Moment” between Cindrella’s Prince, Cinderella, and The Baker’s Wife “is probably cut”.
However, Sondheim seems to be understanding of the changes. He said, “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.”
Is Disney just making an “Into the Woods Jr.”? The show for elementary schools completely cuts Act 2. While that makes the show family friendly, it also dismisses the complete message of “Into the Woods”. The show challenges its viewers to question the ideas of what it means to get what you want, to live happily ever after, and if that is all even possible.
Are you still excited for the Into the Woods movie? Will you still see it despite the cuts? Let us know in the comments!