When I first heard that Disney was gonna make a movie version of the musical Into The Woods, I was confused. Really, Disney? Seriously? You guys want to tackle this particular Stephen Sondheim musical? The one that starts out with a fairytale and then turns it inside out, introducing adultery, loss, sexual predators, and oh so very many deaths? Is that for sure something you intended to do?
It just seemed like a project so far outside their typical realm of subject matter that I couldn’t imagine how they’d handle it. But now, at long last, we have our answer — according to The New Yorker, they’re just gonna take those parts out.
Okay, so I don’t know if you’re into musical theater at all, but if you’re gonna take out all the dark scary parts, you’re left with…half the story. Pretty much exactly half, because it starts like a normal fairytale and then turns itself on its head halfway through, like I said, WHICH IS KIND OF THE WHOLE POINT. Not in this version though, because in the world of Disney, Rapunzel never dies and the Baker’s Wife never cheats! Two things that Stephen Sondheim seemed perfectly okay with as he defended his decisions to a classroom of drama teachers:
“You will find in the movie that Rapunzel does not get killed, and the prince does not sleep with the baker’s wife,” he said.
The teachers gasped, but Sondheim shrugged. “You know, if I were a Disney executive I would probably say the same thing,” he said.
A teacher asked what would happen to the song “Any Moment” if the baker’s wife remained chaste. “Don’t say the song is cut.”
“The song is cut.”
The teachers cried out in despair.
“I’m sorry, I should say, it’s probably cut,” Sondheim said.
“Stick up for that song!” a teacher called out.
“I did, I did,” Sondheim said. “But Disney said, we don’t want Rapunzel to die, so we replotted it. I won’t tell you what happens, but we wrote a new song to cover it.”
Oh good, well as long as you wrote something new to replace one of the best songs in the whole show and you’re aware of the fact that this totally quirks around a ton of other plotpoints, lines in songs, and character arcs, that should be totally fine.
(Cries quietly into a handkerchief.)