Why the Giant Goes Unseen in Into the Woods

Into the Woods has recently made it’s theatrical debut and one problem being brought up about the cinematic adaption is that the view of one of the antagonists is obstructed. In Act II the main threat comes in the form of a giant who has followed Jack down the beanstalk. The giant is roaming the land, destroying homes, and killing villagers off screen causing immense dread for the main characters. If this monster is the key threat for the climax, why is it the audience hardly sees it’s face?

The giant remains hidden during the stage show as well with the audience either seeing a shadow lurking behind the actors or possibly a foot or a hand. For the most part, the beast’s destruction speaks for itself and when a tree falls or a roar is heard, the audience can gather that the threat is present. Still, the monster is never out in the open. The audience has to rely on the character’s descriptions of him to create a vague idea of his appearance. They have to take their word for it that the beast is grotesque and out to harm them. We’re seeing the giant through the character’s eyes rather than our own and personally, I love that.

From what I gathered when I watched the stage show, the giant wasn’t meant to explicitly be a giant. He represents so much more and we don’t get a decent look at him because the monster is more of a mentality. I don’t mean he’s imaginary – there definitely is a giant causing panic – but the constant dread of the attack represents the unknown darkness and change sweeping over our leads. At the end of Act I life had changed dramatically for each character. They had all been given what they wanted, but in Act II they have to deal with the price of heavy wishes. They have to adjust and learn that not every dream is worth having and what we think is best for us or the people around us sometimes isn’t. The giant is this impending reality trudging towards them. The charm of their wish has worn away and now the real world is beginning to resonate with them.

Cinderella is learning that love isn’t always eternal or pure. The Baker and his Wife are dealing with the challenges of raising a child. The Witch is learning to let go of her daughter and allow her independence. Rapunzel is trying to make sense of a radically different environment while handling an intense anxiety. The giant is that change and he’s a big change. He’s threatening, he’s hideous, he destroys what these characters once held as truth. Some survive the change and some don’t.

At the end there’s a song called “No one is Alone” with lines such as “sometimes people leave you halfway through the woods.” The “woods” could translate into “life” and how loved ones may pass earlier than we would expect or prefer. The idea of these woods being a representation of life makes the giant’s role all the more plausible. The musical is called, “Into the Woods” which could be taken as “Into Life.” The woods are dark and dangerous, but also beautiful and filled with hidden treasures and opportunities. These characters are getting lost, feeling conflicted, finding changes within themselves, realizing hidden emotions, and so forth when they’re in the woods. The most character development happens in the woods. That’s when the leads are struggling to figure out a path for their lives and understand who they are. The only deaths that take place are in the woods showing the end of life.The giant is the cause for most, if not all, decay which can be interpreted as the these characters not surviving change. Either they can’t adjust or they make the wrong decision causing them to get trampled.

I understand why the lack of a physical giant would disappoint casual viewers, but I’m thankful it remains relatively out of view. For on, CGI doesn’t always come out the way we expect it to. A poorly designed giant could severely throw off and otherwise beautifully shot film. Also, I’d like to think the giant would appear differently to each character. Each one sees a different marking or feature in the giant to better fit into their change or threat. This also allows for the audience to create their own giant and have that reflect their concerns or their own life changes while watching.

In a way, the obstructed view makes this villain all the more ominous and fearful. How do you defeat an enemy you can hardly see?

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Oxford

Last year around this time I had hardly gotten 15 minutes of sleep from waiting in a Chicago airport, sitting on a plane for 7 hours, getting on a bus in London, and finally arriving at Oxford. It was the first location my tour group hit and while we were all a bit sleep deprived and adjusting to the time change, it was hard not to get just a little excited.

Though relatively vacant at the time, the campus was breathtaking. These photos do not do it justice, but it felt like stepping back in time. The architecture is classic and walking down the hallways felt like stepping into a different world (Although, the gift shop did ruin some of the illusion). Maybe that’s why some of the halls and steps were selected to film Harry Potter in.

I know I say this just about everyplace I’ve visited, but it is so beautiful there. I’m in love with old buildings and, while exhausted, being there was an incredible experience.

Winter Sunset

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After almost two weeks of no sun here in IL, it finally showed up. Still no snow for a white Christmas, but as I was pulling into my driveway yesterday I had grab my camera and take some photos of the sunset. I realize there’s an obvious glare in this picture, but I think it gives the photo some character. Either that or I have a weird eye for what’s considered artistic.

I’m hoping to get some snow photos later in the year, but we’ll see. In the meantime I thought this one had a warm, but barren feel to it. When all of the fields are cut and you live in the country, sometimes looking into the vast land is overwhelming and a little frightening. It’s always been eerie to me and solemn, but with the warm sun giving off a golden tone, the atmosphere is no longer so cold. The frigid plains become peaceful and breathtaking. This change doesn’t happen often for me, but it did yesterday and this image perfectly captures that emotion for me.

Wanderlust and Old Cities

I’ve always wanted to live in an old city – one filled with Victorian architecture, clock towers, museums, historical libraries, and so forth. I want a place where I can walk to the stores if I wanted to instead of driving constantly. Someplace with little cafes and unique shops opposed to cluttered department stores. I want to be in a place with history, art, and breathtaking scenery. For as long as I can remember, this is the type of city that I’ve felt drawn to and can never seem to get out of my mind. It’s also a city that appears to be as far away from me as a place can get.

For the time being, I still live in my hometown. It’s not even close to my ideal city and sometimes it’s easy to feel stranded here. I don’t mind small towns, in fact I prefer to live in small towns considering how uncomfortable I am with crowds. Only, I’d like a small town that still has culture to it. I’m not exaggerating when I say I reside in the middle of a cornfield. I have to drive 20 minutes to come across a non-fast food restaurant or movie theater and another 45 minutes to an hour to come across a half-way decent mall or bookstore. Even my college town was vacant and separated from the rest of the world. I would never choose to live there again or even my hometown for that matter, but I’ve yet to find this meaningful location.

I often wonder how others get lucky enough to live somewhere they love and how they gain the money and courage to do so. Today is day 8 of no sunlight down here in rural IL. While I’m looking at the grim sky and barren fields, it’s easy to daydream about where I’d like to be. I want to be able to walk down a sidewalk with lights, but not enough to blind me. I want lights that feel comforting, but lively. Something to bring up my spirits and fill me a sense of wonder. I want to see people sitting outside little cafes and catching up with old friends. I want to see gorgeous buildings that have survived the centuries and still give pedestrians that awe moment even if they’ve walked past this landmark each day for as long as they can remember. I wan to live in a place where I feel like I’m not missing out on anything, but I’m not inclined to place myself in every museum or every event. I want a place with a leisurely atmosphere, but filled with something new every morning.

It astounds me that people my age have found their own version of this little slice of paradise, but it’s a good reminder that life shouldn’t be looked at as a race. Maybe a year or two from now I’ll find myself there. As young as I am, I’ve noticed that opportunities tend to present themselves when I stop desperately trying to seek them and focus on what I have in front of me.

Perhaps this city doesn’t exist or it’s not all I’ve built it up to be. Maybe I’ll never even find my way there, but for now the thought alone can act as a beacon – something to look toward when I’m feeling stranded and solemn. It’s a comforting daydream and a reminder that someday I’ll end up exactly where I want to be within my own time.

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” I sometimes think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t. Because you look around and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form” – Midnight in Parish (2011).

Peanuts – Old vs. New

Maybe I’m a little late coming into this topic, but since it’s close to my heart, I’m writing about it anyways. About a week ago we received a trailer for the new Peanuts movie that will be arriving next Christmas. I remember reading an article about it maybe last year and then news about it seemed to vanish shortly after. I didn’t keep up to date so I figured it was a fresh idea that got tossed aside somewhere in the early stages of production, but it seems that it made it out with an official release date no less.

My feelings are…conflicted. I love Charlie Brown, I grew up with the comics and episodes. I still watch the holiday specials every year, I still own the merchandise, and I still think the stories are classics. Peanuts is witty, has that dry humor I love, and takes the audience seriously despite it being geared toward a younger audience. The series has range and that’s why it’s stood the test of time. People still quote it, they know who Snoopy is, they know the famous theme, and if they see a yellow shirt with a black zigzag on it, they’ll immediately relate it to Charlie Brown. The series is well known and I’m not sure how aware younger kids are of it, but it is nice to know there’s a new film underway for a new generation.

That being said, I’m growing weary of reboots and sequels. I can’t help but wonder if Hollywood is running out of ideas and has to heavily rely on the nostalgia factor this year. Nostalgia can be a lot of fun, but the film industry also needs balance. With every reboot or sequel there needs to be something original. Marvel recently announced their next phase which is weighted down with more sequels, but they’re also giving us new heroes that haven’t been granted much if any screen time in the past decade. We’re getting Captain Marvel and Black Panther who some haven’t yet heard of. That’s fun, it’s new, it’s fresh faces and it will be a nice break from the sequels and final trilogy installments.

Only this is Charlie Brown and I have to ask – “Do we need another Charlie Brown movie?”

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I’m also iffy on the artwork. Partly because I’m one of those people who tends to bash on computer animation even though I don’t find it all that bad. My problem is that hand drawn art is dying quickly and shouldn’t be. I always found that part of the Peanuts charm was the artwork. It’s iconic and it almost feels wrong that it’s computerized for this next movie. Yet, it’s clear the animators are paying homage to the old look. The art has hand drawn qualities and it makes the trailer look unique – almost original. I have to admit, the film looks nice. The colors are soft and it’s, at lack for a better word, pretty. It’s a pretty trailer and I wouldn’t mind sitting through an entire film with that art style.

I’m torn between wanting to cling onto the old and embracing the new. I like the style, the nods to the classic episodes, and even the voice acting. I like that Charlie Brown is still relevant and that this film might introduce younger kids to the iconic characters if they haven’t been already, but I also wish the older material could speak for itself. I wish the classics would remain classics and continue being broadcasted around holidays and released on DVD. I wish the old art style would remain the only art style for the series and that audiences of all generations could continue knowing what Peanuts is without a reboot.

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In all honesty I will see this film. Maybe it will impress me, who knows? It doesn’t have a bad trailer, it just feels unnecessary. I don’t know if I’ll pay theater price for it, but when it comes to DVD I’ll rent it.

While I’m on the fence, I am still holding onto the hope of a Fox Trot film. Maybe one day…