Disney has a history of drawing inspiration from Brothers Grimm fairytales to create whimsical and charming stories that have become classics all in their own right. I remember growing up watching the 1947’s Mickey and the Beanstalk and their rendition of Little Red Ridding Hood on television just as much as the classic motion pictures Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. More recently, Disney created a computer-animated version of Rapunzel, of which they renamed Tangled in an attempt to not put off male audiences, which was well received by critics and viewers alike.
Disney has a successful and proven track record of bringing Brothers Grimm fairytales to life, and that’s why I was especially pleased to hear that the studio will be making their own rendition of the musical, Into The Woods.
While not written by Brothers Grimm directly, Into The Woods is a musical that intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and follows them to explore the consequences of the character’s wishes and quests.
Written by James Lapine with music by Stephen Sondheim, the musical debuted at San Diego’s Old Globe Theater in 1986 and premiered on Broadway the following year. The musical has won several Tony Awards including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical. Although the musical has been produced many times, Disney will be bringing the acclaimed musical to the big screen for the first time with their live-action rendition.
The film will follow a similar plot to the musical, showcasing characters from Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella – all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife on their quest to begin a family and their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them.
Based on the idea of wanting what you can’t have, all of the main characters have their own wishes. Cinderella wishes to attend the King’s festival; Jack wishes that his cow would give milk; and the Baker and his wife wish they could have a child.
With the witch being the baker and wife’s neighbor, she promises them that the curse will be lifted if they can find four ingredients that the witch needs for a potion, “the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold”, all before the chime of Midnight in three days’ time.
The baker and his wife therefore set out on their journey, meeting many familiar Brothers Grimm characters along the way who are all on their own search for lasting happiness.
Disney pulled out all the stops for the film adaptation, bringing together an all-star cast ensemble. Meryl Streep will portray the Witch; Emily Blunt will be the Baker’s wife; James Corden will become the baker; Anna Kendrick will fill the shoes of Cinderella and Chris Pine as her prince. Johnny Depp is set to step in as the Wolf; Lilla Crawford as Little Red Ridding Hood; and MacKenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel.
Legendary composer Stephen Sondheim will return, providing music and lyrics including a brand new song for the theatrical debut and Rob Marshall (Chicago, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) will direct.
The musical is known for taking on darker, more adult themes such as lust, adultery and murder, so it will be interesting to see how Disney turns the classic into their own version and how family-friendly Disney’s version will be. Production just began this week filming both in-studio and on location in England so there isn’t any projected MPAA rating yet, but the film is set to hit theaters on Christmas Day 2014.