Into the Woods is a musical written by Stephen Sondheim that was was recently adapted by Disney into a movie that was released this past holiday season. Having never seen the play I had stayed away from trailers and other material about the film before seeing in the theater and I came away liking it very much. The story, by James Lapine, intertwines a handful of fairy tales into a single tale that is magical, mysterious, funny, curious, dark, and whimsical. Now available on Blu-ray for you to take home and enjoy.
One of they key elements of Into the Woods is that it is a musical, and a great creator always tries to enhance his work. For the movie, Sondheim wrote an entirely new song for the Witch, played by Meryl Streep, called “She’ll Be Back” - a song about denial and loss. And the entire piece, while filmed and edited, was eventually cut from the film. Had it remained it, it would have been sung right after Rapunzel leaves the witch alone at the fallen tower after telling the witch she never wants to see her again. The entire piece can be watched on the Blu-ray.
There’s Something About The Woods has the cast and crew of the movie talk about the woods themselves and how they set the mood for the story. It goes into how they recreated parts of the woods as a set that encompasses all the parts of the woods where they designed the trees there to have shapes that make them “dance” along with the story and music. Sondheim talks about woods near his property where he wrote the songs for the play and how he designed them to enhance the story. The cast discusses how Rob Marshall was a perfect choice due to his love of film, musicals, and the play itself and how the costumes are designed to evoke each fairy tale on it’s own and yet mesh together.
In The Cast As Good As Gold the cast talks about what it was like to become and be a part of the cast for Into the Woods. Rob Marshall talks about bringing the cast together as a family, and how important that is to him in his creative process. The cast themselves keep coming back to that same point as well as discussing how much they all enjoyed working together and their characters. Even the cow.
There is a section on the Blu-ray called Deeper Into The Woods which contains some material that was released prior to the film with some edits, additions, and changes:
- From Stage To Screen is a discussion about how both Sondheim and Lapine worked to adapt the play, both the music and the story, in order to better serve the way a movie carries a story differently than stage.
- The Magic Of The Woods talks about how the music carries the story as a whole, and how much of a challenge this was for the cast to live up to because it’s Sondheim. We also learn how the music was enhanced by moving to a 60 piece orchestra for recordings. As well as how the songs we hear are all mixings of on and off stage recordings that use of editing to combine disparate elements.
- Designing The Woods delves into how “The Woods” itself is a character in the film and how important that is to set the mood. We learn how the crew handled the integration of the real woods with the stage woods they created on a soundstage. And how together The Woods they created encompasses the various parts of the story and brings it all together.
- The Costumes Of The Woods is about Colleen Atwood and her ability to create perfect costume pieces. They explain how each grouping of costumes represents a different time period and how each character’s costume has a theme. For example, how the Witch’s costume is designed to “be the woods”. We also learn that it was Johnny Depp said he wanted to play Tex Avery’s Wolf in a Zoot Suit, and how that concept was adapted to his costume. There is also some information on Peter King and Roy Helland bringing the perfect hairstyles and makeup to enhance the costumes.
In addition there is also an Audio Commentary track for the film, which can be both watched and subtitled in a numerous array of languages. For fans of the songs, there is a section titled Music & Lyrics where you can watch just the songs of the movie without having to fast forward all of which have special subtitles so you can sing along. The Blu-ray also has a quick trailer for the upcoming DCOM Descendants.
As you can see from above, this Blu-ray is well designed to attract both new and old fans of Into the Woods. You can learn so much about how the stage production was adapted into the movie. And newer fans who might not yet know the songs as well as fans of the musical, can spend the time learning and enjoying them. This is a very well packaged Blu-ray and is a welcome addition to my collection.