Musical theatre fans are getting an extra Christmas present this Christmas, with the film release of Disney’s film version of Into the Woods. Based on the hit musical of the same name, composed by Stephen Sondheim and the book written by James Lapine. The show revolves around several famous fairy tales and how they interact with each other, including Cinderella, Rapunzel and Red Riding Hood. But where did the material come from? Hope you’re comfortable, as there is quite a lot of source material!
Little Red Riding Hood, who is walking through the forest to deliver food for her granny, also makes an appearance in the show. Once again first published by Charles Perrault (there seems to be an occurring theme amongst fairy tales), the story made its first appearance in 1697. The wolf also plays a significant part within the show. Other versions of the story include those of the Brothers Grimm, Andrew Lang, and more.
Also featured in the show is Rapunzel, the maiden with the long hair, trapped in a tower. This is also where the show seems to gain a significant part of its plot, as we encounter both the childless couple and the witch feature within Into the Woods, as well as Rapunzel. The story is a German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm and was originally first published in 1812, as part of a collection of children’s tales.
Other famous fairy tale characters include Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk (his earliest known appearance was in Benjamin Tabart’s 1807 version), with hints of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Snow White, another German fairy tale, was originally published in Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Sleeping Beauty can be traced to both Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, as the story told by the brothers was a verbally transmitted version of the original story written by Perrault.
Still with us? Great. The show (and soon to be film) also drew inspiration from Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. American psychologist Bettelheim, in which he analyzed various fairy tales, wrote the book. Into The Woods is released into theatres on December 25th, 2014 for North America. Now, go catch up on your fairy tales before venturing deeper into the woods!