Friday, June 12, 2015

Thursentary: Into the Woods, Act II

Onto Act II! Today’s thoughts on Into the Woods are a little longer than yesterday’s, so if you’d like to go make popcorn or something, here is your opportunity.

All right, are you ready? Onto Act II, and all its… well, not really glory.

Here is the good thing I have to say:

via Oh My Disney

I Loved the Baker’s Character Arc

I thought the Baker’s transition from hopeful contender to only parent was both cute and poignant. While the other characters only sort-of change, the Baker grows from being a struggling spouse into a father and a leader. He’s going to be the head of a household where he will be the moral guide, provider, teacher, and stronghold for three kids who have lost their parents, and will be learning to work with a new partner at his side: Cinderella. I mean, it was like that in the musical, too, but at least watching the movie the sensation was so much stronger for me coming away than it was before.

Here is everything else:

via Buzzfeed

We Didn’t Get Our Second Round of Wishes

In the musical, Act II sets up everyone being unhappy again. In the movie, we jump to the part where the second beanstalk is a problem. It takes away from Jack wanting to return to the sky, the Bakers’ unhappiness with their home, Cinderella’s lack of a home, even in the palace. The movie almost lies to you by suggesting that life would have continued in almost-perfection if it weren’t for the Giantess—in the musical, we know that’s just not true.

via thingsmusicalstaughtme


“Agony (reprise)” was the biggest blow for me, but I also missed “Maybe They’re Magic.” We didn’t explore the wife’s almost unhealthy desire for a child; also leaving out songs like “Our Little World” left out more insight into the Witch’s relationship with Rapunzel. The Baker’s father’s song was there in spirit, but not in music. Without the rest of the songs, you miss characterization, plot, and worldbuilding details. It just… it was kind of like making a BLT without the B. Like you don’t need bacon to have a sandwich, but you definitely need bacon to have a BLT. You don’t need all the songs to have a story, but you need all the songs to have Into the Woods.

via Oh My Disney

The Princes and Rapunzel Got Cut Off

Oh, you know. They just left out the bit where Rapunzel got pregnant with twins and wandered around in the wilderness for a while with her kids. And the thread regarding Rapunzel’s descent into madness due to the abuse she suffered at the hands of the Witch. And Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and that whole affair. And Rapunzel’s death at the hands of the giantess. And the reduction of the Prince and Baker’s wife into a kiss. Cinderella leaving the prince was a lot more powerful when she had a lot more reason, and the princes had more to their characters before somebody decided they could be sacrificed.

via The Wall Street Journal

So Many Unresolved Plotlines

Did you know that Cinderella’s family starves to death after getting lost in the woods? Did you know that the princes find new women to love them after Cinderella decides that she doesn’t want an unfaithful prince and Rapunzel dies? Did you know there was an entire song about seducing sleeping women in the woods, and it was funny because it played off of “Agony” perfectly? No, you didn’t, because they decided they could let those threads hang. Hang their threads! You should know the real endings, of all the characters!

via Entertainment Weekly

Act II Was Not Act II

Ultimately, between my previous points, Act II was not Act II. They spent more than an hour setting up Act I, but then, to make Act II fit, got rid of “extraneous” plotlines, just like how the Stepmother took a knife to her daughters’ feet for the sake of marriage (That whole scene was great, by the way). What the filmmakers did not recognize from the Stepmother’s lesson is that you can’t just cut off the parts that don’t fit and expect to get away with wearing the shoe.

via thingsmusicalstaughtme

They Probably Should Have Gone for the PG-13 Rating

End game: They made this a little too kid-friendly. I mean, I don’t have anything against PG movies; I like Tangled as much as the next girl. However, for the themes and messages presented in Into the Woods, it would have been worth their while to shrink their audience to a more mature age group. You know, with G and PG-rated movies, you can cover a broad spectrum of ideas—loss, love, family, strength, fear, helplessness, I could go on. It’s not necessarily the idea that’s inappropriate for children: it’s the stakes. The majority of my favorite movies are rated at least PG-13, not because they cover more mature topics (although they often do).  Movies that are PG-13 and above can show penalties in all their messy, bloody, painful ugliness. It’s one thing to say that someone died, but when you have to watch the life leave their eyes, the story becomes that much more. And for the sake of the spirit of Into the Woods, a lot more meaning could have been put into the story if someone was a little more willing to say, “Let’s make it ugly.”

via Yahoo
Yes, the last lines are, “Into the woods, and out of the woods, and happily ever after!” There’s a new family, a new life, and evil has been defeated again. But evil’s still out there, inside and out, and if there was an Act III, we have to know that it would happen all over again.

My best friend said, “It’s like they told a different story using the same words,” but I disagree, a little. They told a different story using only some of the same words, and in doing so, they left behind some of the best parts that made Into the Woods something more than a happy ending.

And, even though I’m still going to listen the heck out of the soundtrack, I firmly believe that Into the Woods should be a three hour musical, not a two hour movie.

*deep breath* So, what are your thoughts on the mostly-absent Act II of Into the Woods? What parts did you miss the most? 


  1. I feel ya here on so many levels. I missed the Agony Reprise especially, not to mention the ending songs with the Baker's father and such. Those are (for me) the most haunting parts of the musical, and they basically got relegated to the credits or cut entirely. *sigh*



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