Story Exploration: Into the Woods

Story Type: Movie/Musical

Overall Rating: 2 of 5

Described in One Word: Sad

Described in One Sentence: The threads of classic fairy tales are woven together to create a melancholy tapestry.


First off, I knew absolutely nothing about Into the Woods before watching the movie, and that includes the stage production. I vaguely knew that there were a lot of un family friendly things in the stage production and that Disney cut those out. I would more than likely hate the stage version because of that, especially with how I feel just about Disney’s version. With that disclaimer out of the way, let us continue.

I didn’t get to see Into the Woods when it came out in theaters. We had to wait until the end of August for our turn to finally get it from the library. After such a long wait, my hopes were pretty high for this film. In the end, however, I was kind of disappointed.

Now don’t get me wrong. This film holds in it Disney Magic, making it aesthetically brilliant and beautiful to watch, and of course there are songs that will stick in your head and that many of my friends sing out with gusto. But instead of at the end of it feeling joy, I felt sad. Depressed, even.  There wasn’t a whole lot of hope in the story.  And, perhaps, that was its point.

Following the familiar fairy tales but in the original oft-times gory fashion was quite the interesting twist to begin with. But the continuation of the sad and rather dark story just brought me down. In the end I felt rather cheated.

But you know… this reminds me of The Princess Bride (why yes, I am referring to my favorite book for more than likely not the last time, thanks for noticing 😀 ) Goldman says he suffered so much when he thought that Buttercup had married Humperdink because he was outraged. It wasn’t fair. But he didn’t realize that until his teens when a neighbor woman told him that life isn’t fair.

And it’s true. Life isn’t fair. Sometimes, horrible things happen. There is pain and Agony (see what I did there?) and tears.  Sometimes, Princes are not princely. Children have to grow up without one or both of their parents. Our actions have consequences we never thought possible.  But even in all of this, we can make the right choices. The choice to stand up and be the father you need to be. To stand by others who have helped you, been there for you.

Perhaps, that is what Into the Woods is trying to say. That even when endings are not fair, even when there are no happily ever afters, it doesn’t mean that everything is hopeless. You can still step up to the plate and make a difference in this world, and you have something that other people need.

The thing is, if that is what they were trying to say, they didn’t do that great a job in my opinion. If they had, I would not have left the film feeling the way I did. I didn’t feel motivated or empowered or hopeful.

Despite the feeling of sad emptiness, I think there are still things you can glean from the movie. And I would also like to point out that Rapunzel’s story was awesome.

Also, the entire movie is worth watching just to see the Agony musical number.

In a nutshell: If you like Happily Ever After Disney, you probably won’t like this story. But if you like sad things and original Grimm and lots of food for thought, then by all means give it a watch.

Have you watched Into the Woods? What are your thoughts? Which song gets stuck in your head the most? 


2 thoughts on “Story Exploration: Into the Woods

  1. Nadine Brandes says:

    Ugh! I felt the same way! It left me feeling disheartened and disappointed. I didn’t know anything about the story until I went and saw it in theaters for my birthday (bringing my entire family, too! *hides face in hands*)

    Spot-on review.

    Liked by 1 person

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