A primer in lostness: Into the woods

For those of us who feel a bit strange wandering through the thicket of life (especially post-uni, pre-fully-adult), and occasionally (melodramatically, egoistically?) despairing about the choices (made, possible, or impossible), Into the woods, brings our woes to the big screen, by way of fairytales, set to a lovely Sondheim score. Inspired by a psychoanalytical readings of fairytales, it premiered as a stage musical in 1986 in San Diego and was adapted to screen, very successfully by Rob Marshall (of Chicago fame). Although the film is has much charm and performances are strong across the board (Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep are amazing, the rest are very solid), I would still recommend watching the recording of the Broadway production, mostly as it has the much stronger emotional punch and keeps the very delicate shading of characters. Obviously, watching a recording of a theatre production, makes for a bit of an awkward viewing, especially for musicals, so if you find it too cringe do the film first.

The story blends magic, comedy and tragedy into an uncomfortably life-like portrait of muggle life: life pursuits are unmasked as overvalued or completely misguided, knowledge of new things is not as great as expected, and some are just crushed by fate- no reason given. The lyrics are amazingly witty and accurate. They cannot but pierce the hearts of those who left their homes and loved ones to climb up the greasy bean stalk, or of those feeling stuck in indecision of whether the thing they thought they wanted is the thing that they really want. Indeed, given how accurate the shading of characters is I wouldn’t be surprised if the material is used in group therapy sessions. Finally, the music is a treat and it cannot but make you march to meet you wolves, giants, or any random sticks and stones life throws at you.

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