Many of my favorite movies have that one scene that I simply have to watch. I’m sure you have them to. When you’re flipping through TV channels and you come across a movie that you love, you’ll sit and watch it until that one scene plays and then you’ll feel free to change the channel to something else. For me and Jurassic Park, it’s the T-Rex attack, or inAliens it’s Ripley in the Power Loader (unless Aliens is showing on AMC, where they split the film’s finale in two so they can air 5 minutes of commercials right smack in the middle), or the Diva’s song in The Fifth Element. This past week I was channel surfing and came across one of my all-time favorite musicals on Turner Classic, West Side Story, and I lucked out because it was right before the start of my favorite scene, the one I just have to watch.
I rarely pay much attention to those around me in a movie theater. We all have experienced a myriad of awful behavior from both adults and children, and it’s driven some people to stay home and simply watch movies on Netflix (or pirate them), but I’ve mostly learned to tune them out. There are exceptions, when I want to see how people react to a particular moment in a film I’ve seen before, but mostly I ignore people rudely talking or checking their cell phones and such. However, I started to notice an interesting trend during Into the Woods that brought a lot of questions to my mind, particularly as it pertains to the state of musical films in today’s pop culture landscape. And it all made me wonder whether movie musicals will ever be popular enough again to have a regular place at the table of major film genres, and why, exactly, people stopped loving musicals.
The production of Into the Woods has been a series of ups and downs for theatre fans around the world. The film’s mere existence is worthy of excitement, but the presence of Disney overseeing the relatively mature Stephen Sondheim musical was cause for concern. Sondheim’s involvement (along with the original show writer James Lapine) allayed some fears, but his interviews caused a lot of confusion about what changes had been made, what songs had been cut, and how “family friendly” the film had been made. The A-list cast and director Rob Marshall brought some Hollywood glamor to the movie, and all that remained was to wait and see how it turned out. The end result is a fairly faithful, extremely well made adaptation of a musical that is perhaps better suited for stage rather than screen.