Sondheim speaks of Into The Woods Bowdlerization

edited June 2014 in Theater

*sighs* Howard, I guess you already knew this, but even the greatest of the great get their work tampered with by idiots who don't know what they're doing.


  • edited June 2014
    I wouldn't call them idiots who don't know what they're doing. I'd say they're amoral businessmen whose only goal is to minimize financial risk. In my opinion, though, there shouldn't have been any worry about the financial risk of this project. I think the marquee value of Into the Woods will sell tickets no matter what's actually in the movie.
  • Corporate branding at it's finest. But I don't recall the Baker's Wife sleeping with the Prince. (Kissing passionately, yes.) Are they confusing INTO THE WOODS with another Lapine-Sondheim show?
  • edited July 2014
    My humble view is this: If a complete or nearly complete recording of a musical is widely available -- whether it's a videotaped recording of the theatrical show or an earlier film -- that musical is open to any and all changes, good or bad. It's why I'm fine with every change in Les Mis (which has two nearly complete concert recordings) and Sweeney Todd (which has the complete 1982 tour video and two concert videos), and every possible change in the hypothetical My Fair Lady remake (which has the original film, which was extended).

    We have to keep in mind that this is Disney we're talking about. When Phil Harris was cast as Baloo and someone said "Gee, Phil Harris in a Kipling film? Will that work?", Walt Disney's replied, "Yeah, nobody reads that book nowadays anyways. We'll make our OWN Jungle Book!" He made the bratty, rebellious, awful child that was Pinocchio in the original Carlo Collodi book -- who ends up getting sentenced to death by hanging -- into the sweet, kind-hearted, yet naive character that he is in the film. He took out a bunch of things from Bambi. He fired Bill Peet over his treatment for The Jungle Book, which he felt "wasn't a Disney film," and when he asked the new story team if they had read the book, and no one raided their hands, he said "Good. I don't want you too. Here's the sotry I want us to tell." Even look at the more recent films, like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Pocahontas. When you look at them, they are all terrible, terrible adaptations of the original stories.

    I feel when it comes to making musical films, the job of the producers and directors is not film the entire show on film. Their job is to look at the original show, take it apart, figure out what will work on film and what won't, and make the best film out of the material as possible.

    To me, it looks like they overdid it a bit and could have done a better job, but it's Disney. They aren't financing it and releasing it through someone else, like the Marvel films. Their name is probably going to be on the film, and they're releasing it through their studio, so, of course, they want it to fit the Disney image. Every cut and change I can see (as someone who has refused to get into it so they can enjoy the movie) looks to me like that's what they're doing. People are going to see it's a Disney film, and they're going to expect a Disney film.

    As Craig Ferguson said in his episode of The Nerdist Podcast, though I don't agree, I understand.
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