Walt Disney Pictures' Into the Woods will pale in comparison to Stephen Sondheim's stage musical.
According to the legendary composer, the film adaptation has been sanitized to broaden its appeal.
The movie musical tells the story of a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) and their quest to have a child. It culls characters from a variety of fairy tales, including Cinderella (Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford and Johnny Depp) Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone and Tracey Ullman) and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy). Meryl Streep plays The Witch.
Sondheim spoke about the plot changes made for the sake of the film during a recent event at Sardi's in New York City. When a teacher raised concerns about the relationship between Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, citing "infidelity, a wolf being lascivious, that the whole connection with Red Riding Hood is sexual," Sondheim replied, "Well, you'll be happy to know that Disney had the same objections." He added, "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."
Though he seemed disappointed, he remains pragmatic. "Censorship is part of our puritanical ethics," Sondheim said. "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."
Another teacher asked if the song "Any Moment," which bookends the encounter between Cinderella's Prince and the Baker's Wife, will remain. "The song is cut," Sondheim said. That revelation upset fans of the original stage show, prompting him to tell the attendees, "I'm sorry. I should say, it's probably cut."
Sondheim told fans that he and Into the Woods' Tony Award-winning book writer James Lapine fought for the song's inclusion in the movie. "But Disney said, we don't want Rapunzel to die, so we re-plotted it," the composer, 84, explained. "I won't tell you what happens, but we wrote a new song to cover it."
The film features two new songs: one called "Rainbows," and another for The Witch.
Into the Woods, directed by Rob Marshall, arrives in theaters Dec. 25.