I watched Into the Woods a few days ago with two friends of mine. Despite being unfamiliar with the original broadway musical–knowing only that it has to do with Little Red Riding Hood and a few other fairy tales–I was really loving it. Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick are both flawless, the songs are fantastic, and the cinematography is beautiful. I was loving the direction in which the story was going. And then… everything went to shit. Not the film, but the lives of the main characters. While other moviegoers seemed completely aware of what was going to happen, I was suddenly and unapologetically torn away from the hope of a happy ending.
I was expecting a Disney-fied fairy tale mashup that still somehow ends with most of the characters getting what they wanted. And I know this isn’t how life is, but it’s what I wanted, and it made me uneasy when it strayed from the typical formula. And the fact that this made me uneasy also made me feel guilty. I should be completely okay with less-than-happy endings. In fact, I should have been celebrating it! After all, I’ve read sections of the original fairy tales, and they can be pretty gruesome. I read books all the time that leave me sobbing, and they are some of my all-time favorites! TFioS, anyone? Heck, I usually love watching sad movies, too. Maybe the difference is that I’m usually somewhat prepared for the sad parts. Certain types of stories are pretty much guaranteed to have death and tragedy. With Into the Woods, I went into it blindly, with only the Disney-fied notion of fairy tales to guide me. I was clueless.
I have nothing profound to say, really. I’m just trying to make sense of my need for happy endings.