Thursday, December 25, 2014

These "Woods" Are Lovely, Dark and Deep, But Promises Go Unkept there

Chris Pine as the Prince who warns he was raised to be charming, not sincere
Disney has produced a perfect adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s 1986 stage musical Into the Woods, although — like all of Sondheim’s work — it won’t be to everyone’s taste.
These woods are lovely, dark and deep, but promises go unkept there. Wolves and witches prowl there, it’s true, but so do Bruno Bettelheim and Joseph Campbell.
Sondheim was decades ahead of American popular culture in following the darker streams in classic fantasy to their sources. Between the lines of his wickedly witty lyrics, astute audiences will discern observations about our existential condition — about love, parenthood, betrayal, courage and the disillusionments of maturity.
Sondheim faithfully mixes the elements of a half-dozen fairy tales, faintly mocking their absurdities while mining — and extending — their truths. Those truths are funny, bittersweet, profoundly sad (as in the parent’s lament Stay With Me) and even wise (as in Children Will Listen, the song that soars as we rise from out seats).
I don’t think Matt Mattingly found it as moving as I did, although he too enjoyed it. I wish the whole audience could have enjoyed it as much as I did.
But then you must be careful, you know, what you wish for.
“Careful the wish you make
“Wishes are children
“Careful the path they take
“Wishes come true, not free
“Careful the spell you cast
“Not just on children
“Sometimes a spell may last
"Past what you can see…”

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