Into The Woods

Into The Woods is a classic Broadway musical written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine recently adapted for the screen. I had heard of it numerous times when I lived in New York City, but was not really familiar with it until I saw the film version last week. Many Broadway stars have played in it over the years, including Bernadette Peters and Joanna Gleason.

This rich and mostly pleasant musical portrayal of many famous classic children’s tales that have been comically and dramatically intertwined, takes an ironic turn in the last half hour, and Into The Woods (spoiler alert) then morphs uncomfortably into what I received as a morality tale, rather than a fairy tale; more of an “Aesop’s Fables” than a “Grimm’s Stories”.

I feel this movie could help someone who was frivolous take life more seriously, given the right circumstances. As a Christian, the latter part of the film made me again question if my commitment to follow Christ is adequate.

The movie brought to mind a culminating piece in the final book in The Chronicles of Narnia: “The Last Battle”, by C.S. Lewis, when one of the supposed Christian characters does not appear in Heaven (that is not to say that the ladies ought to expect every ‘Prince Charming’ or the men, every woman, to be reliable). It is revealed that the character was not a true believer, and was more concerned with social things than with the things of Narnia.

When I read that passage in the past, I asked myself: What about the phrase, “Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia.”? Writing here, today, I see the conclusion may be that perhaps she was not a true queen of Narnia, and therefore did not endure.

There is another character in the book, parallel to a Muslim, perhaps (a worshipper of the fictional god Tash), who loves God, and goes to heaven (as the Lord desires those who worship in spirit and in truth – John 4:24). This revelation that the “Narnian” was lost was stunning, concerning, and important. That the “Tashite” was saved is awesome and important. Into The Woods is not a Christian drama, but it is startlingly impactful in its’ late plot twist, thus the comparison.

I am no Roger Ebert, and am not trying to give a thumbs up or down on seeing this film (a rich and well-produced movie, that is well acted, features great singing and a very nice soundtrack), but it might or might not be something for your kids to see. On the one hand, they might learn from it, and on the other hand, it is a Hollywood movie, has scary scenes with the wolf character, and depicts witchcraft*.

Here’s to taking God’s Word seriously; He is good.

*”There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,…”

Deuteronomy 18:10 NASB


(Author’s note: I do like Lord of the Rings, etcetara, but I am unclear on beloved characters like Gandalf in light of The Lord’s Word on wizardry and such; still, Tolkien’s work is tremendously edifying, to me; maybe the power Gandalf wields is representative of the heavenly host here; he is one of the good guys, anyway)

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