Once upon a time Walt Disney was known for being unafraid to scare the bejeezus out of little kids. In films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Fantasia, the animation pioneer and the studio he created conjured up moments that wouldn’t be all that out of place in a horror movie. But since that Golden Age of the ’30s and ’40s, Disney has come to be known for a kind of family entertainment that, with few exceptions, is nightmare free. Unfortunately, that means the brand is making its mark on the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s beloved Broadway musical Into the Woods.
Variety reports that “to make the pic more family-friendly, Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) will not die. The film will also be less sexual as Cinderella’s Prince (Chris Pine) won’t sleep with the Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt) and the relationship between Big Bad Wolf (Johnny Depp) and Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) won’t be sexually laced.”
What’s particularly distressing to this longtime Sondheim fan, however, is that the composer himself, recently speaking before a group of high school drama teachers, has said, “You will find in the movie that Rapunzel does not get killed and the prince does not sleep with the [Baker’s Wife] … You know, if I were a Disney executive, I probably would say the same thing… Censorship is part of our puritanical ethics… There has to be a point at which you don’t compromise anymore, but that may mean that you won’t get anyone to sell your painting or perform your musical. You have to deal with reality.”
It’s uncertain how these plot changes will affect the songs buoyed by the excised moments. But Variety states that “the song ‘Any Moment’ performed during Prince Charming and the Baker’s Wife’s tryst will ‘probably’ be cut. It’s unclear what will happen to ‘Lament,’ which the Witch (Meryl Streep) sings after Rapunzel dies, and ‘Moments in the Woods,’ which the Baker’s Wife’s belts out after the Prince leaves. The film will feature two new songs that Sondheim penned with James Lapine.”
What do you think, Sondheim fans? Will these changes ruin Into the Woods or merely shape it into a form different from the one we know?