**Into the Woods – SPOILER ALERT**
Yesterday afternoon, Maddie and I went to a matinee. We went to see something to which we had both been looking forward: Into the Woods. It was originally a Broadway musical garnering great acclaim, including several Tony Awards, and later, a novel.
Afterward, we both walked out bewildered, with statements like “That wasn’t what I was expecting,” and “What was that really all about?” I later mentioned my concern about the movie’s message on Facebook, noting that I might be writing about it this morning, and that post was followed by a host of differing opinions, including defense of the film. After all, isn’t it just a movie?
The answer is yes. It is just a movie. It’s a screen adaptation of a play, which intertwines several Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales – Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Cinderella – which were originally very dark stories. It’s beautifully shot, and cleverly written, not to mention well-acted, and contains some good themes like working together, being careful what you wish for, and forgiveness. However, the movie was rated PG, not PG-13, which led me to believe that the stories had probably been “Disneyed-up” for a younger and wider viewing audience. They were not, remaining pretty dark.
Still, that’s not what bothered me.
There were two scenes, toward the end of the movie, that threw the entire film for me. The first was one in which Cinderella’s Prince (Charming) marries Cinderella, then, when the kingdom is terrorized by the giant that has come down the beanstalk after Jack, leaves on horseback to slay it. Minutes after his wedding, he finds the baker’s wife alone in the woods, then charms her into several long kisses. Up to this point, the baker and his wife have stuck together in the common goal of breaking the witch’s spell over their house so they can have a child, but she is easily taken in by his advances. Afterward, the prince rides off without remorse to continue his search, and the baker’s wife sings a song, unable to decide whether what she did was right or wrong.
Which leads me to my second, and main, point, which was during a song called “No One is Alone.” It comes on the heels of the scene with the prince and the baker’s wife (after which, by the way, she dies), and the characters who are left start blaming each other for all that has happened. Then, the baker and Cinderella (who by now knows about her prince’s indiscretion), sing these lyrics (excerpt – full lyrics here) to Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack:
People make mistakes
Holding to their own
Thinking they’re alone
Honor their mistakes
Fight for their mistakes
One another’s terrible mistakes
Witches can be right
Giants can be good
You decide what’s right
You decide what’s good
It’s the last two lines that really bother me. We DO all make mistakes. The world (demonstrated here by the woods) IS a scary, unpredictable place, filled with temptation, and as humans, we often succumb to it. It’s a realistic view; I get that, and I am not naive. I also get that, if we’re going to present our children with fairy tales, which present a moral or life lesson, it’s probably a good thing to be realistic. But that’s just exactly my point in being bothered by those words, “you decide what’s right…you decide what’s good.” That’s NOT realistic. There are standards that we live by, and while the entire world may not live by the same moral standards, we do all live by the law of the land. There IS right and wrong, and, as my daughter said afterward…
Mom, if we decide what’s right, then nothing is wrong.”
Anyone who has read this blog, or followed me for any length of time on social media, knows that I love me some Disney. I raised my kids on their movies, took them to Disney World, and on a Disney Cruise, and now do the same with my grandchildren. I’m not bashing Disney for what appears to be their visual adaptation taken directly from the stage musical. The lyrics, from what I can tell, have not been altered. I do think they should’ve been more careful with the choice of rating. But really, whether you are 6, 16, or 66, “you decide what is right,” or as the baker sings in the same song, “who knows what is true?” are not good for consumption.
There IS truth in the world that is not relative. There is a standard of right and wrong, and if we are hoping to steer our kids away from being disillusioned by tales of “helpless maidens being rescued by charming princes” then let’s do it with a film presents that reality.
Oh, and for the record, I have no problem at all with the maiden/prince rescue theme. Because, well, I am a helpless maiden who has been rescued by a Prince. He made me a princess…a daughter of the King.
And that’s not just a movie. That’s real, true life.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~ John 14:6 ESV
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. ~ Romans 8:16-17 NIV