Into the Woods

into the woods

Into the Woods
Rating: PG
Run Time: 125 minutes
Released: 2014
Director: Rob Marshall

Cultural Rating: pawpaw

The film challenges traditional gender roles and media narratives regarding femininity and masculinity but does little to engage with cultural identities regarding race, sexual orientation, the body, and disability. Additionally, the film is full of moral lessons about taking responsibility for your own actions.

Summary

A young couple heads into the woods to release the curse placed on their family.


Ratings

Language: poo

  • Demeaning language- “worthless,” “rape,” “oh my god,” “dim-witted”

Violence: poopoo

  • Off-screen violence (no gore)- wicked stepsisters cut off parts of their feet to fit the golden slipper, the wolf eats people, the wolf is stabbed and killed, birds pluck out a character’s eyes, multiple character deaths, a prince is blinded by thorns
  • Fighting- slapping, shoving, throwing
  • Weapons- knife, slingshot

Sex: poo

  • Minimal sexual content- passionate kissing.
  • Sexual innuendos throughout the film

Drugs and Alcohol: 0 poo(s)

Cultural Analysis

 

Pros:

Gender:

  • Little Red Riding Hood is an active female character. For example, she goes into the woods by herself and verbally stands up for herself multiple times.
  • The Baker’s Wife is also an active female character as she heads into the woods by herself to search for items that will release the curse on her family.
  • Cinderella is also an active female character as she leaves the house and goes to the ball against her stepmother’s wishes. Additionally, after she marries the Prince (a common occurrence in Disney films), Cinderella is disillusioned with royal life and breaks up with the Prince after she hears of his infidelity with the Baker’s Wife. Cinderella subverts the princess trope when she realizes there is more to life than marrying a prince and becoming a princess (princess culture).
  • The two Princes challenge traditional gender roles regarding masculinity. Even though the two men are handsome and participate in traditionally “masculine” activities (fighting, sleeping with lots of women, being charming), it is considered comedic. This is progressive in the sense that it subverts the prince charming trope and allows the audience to laugh at rigid gender roles regarding masculinity.

Race: N/A

Sexual Orientation: N/A

Disability: N/A

Body: N/A

Cons:

Gender:

  • The male gaze is present in the film. Multiple times throughout the film, male characters stare at the bodies of female characters, thus sexualizing them.
  • Rapunzel reinforces traditional gender roles regarding femininity. For example, she is placed in the tower of a castle to be saved by her “true love.” This is problematic because in the media female characters are rarely given a real life occupation and must have a man to save them.
  • The Baker’s Wife reinforces traditional gender roles regarding femininity as she only wishes to have a baby. This is problematic because it reinforces the idea that having a baby is a prerequisite for a woman’s happiness.

Race:

  • No representation of people of marginalized races or ethnicities.

Sexual Orientation:

Disability:

Body:

  • To be old and “ugly” is considered a punishment. When the Witch is cursed she becomes old (wrinkles, walks in a hunched manner) and “ugly” (unkempt hair, no eyebrows, yellow teeth) and her only goal in life is to become young and beautiful once again.
  • Most bodies conform to body ideals.

Suggested talking points

  • Many fairy tales end with moral lessons. One of the moral lessons that connects all of the fairy tale characters in the film is to be careful what you wish for. Sometimes what we want, or how we go about getting what we want, can be harmful to others. This lesson is illustrated in the song “Last Midnight.”
  • Another moral lesson is taking responsibility for your own actions. The song “Your Fault” is a good example of characters trying to blame one another for the current situation, when in reality it was a combination of all their actions.
  • It is suggested that the Baker’s Wife is punished for her moment of infidelity with the Prince. Her punishment is twofold- one for breaking the sacred vow of marriage, and two for expressing her sexuality.

Image: IMDB.com

Keywords: musical, disney, into the woods, family, movie, gender, music, based off play, play, gender roles, 2 paws, two paws,

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