December 22, 2014 / 8:49 PM / 4 years ago

'Into the Woods' goes darkly beyond happy ever after

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wishes are granted, dreams come true and Cinderella is rescued by her prince, but it is not all happily ever after in “Into the Woods,” the film adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical that puts a modern spin on fairly tales.

Meryl Streep stars as the Witch in this still from "Into the Woods". REUTERS/Disney Enterprises/Peter Mountain/Handout

Director Rob Marshall worked closely with composer Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine in adapting their musical for the film that opens in U.S. theaters on Christmas Day.

It has already earned three Golden Globe nominations - best musical or comedy film, a best actress nod for Emily Blunt and best supporting actress for Meryl Streep - positioning it for the race to the Academy Awards on Feb. 22.

The Disney film remixes the Brothers Grimm fairy tales featuring Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood.

Oscar-nominee Marshall (“Chicago”) approached Sondheim about making the film following the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

“It felt relevant for today, a modern fairy tale for now,” Marshall, 54, said, referring to the film’s theme of community and no one being alone.

He had been a fan of the musical that depicts fairy tales as he said they were meant to be used, as cautionary tales warning to be careful what you wish for.

“The movie goes to happily ever after and then moves forward to show what happens after happily ever after and it becomes more real. It is more what happens in life,” he explained.

Tony-winner James Corden and Blunt are the baker and his wife, a childless couple who must find items to reverse a spell cast by the Witch, played by Streep.

The triple Oscar winner was the first to join the film, in a casting coup that Marshall described as “a dream come true.”

Streep leads an ensemble cast including Johnny Depp as the lecherous Wolf, Anna Kendrick as an independent-minded Cinderella and Chris Pine as her campy prince.

Blunt admitted being initially daunted by the singing.

“I think everybody in this cast considers themselves actors who can sing, and we got better at it. I certainly became a better singer by the end of it,” she said.

Like the characters, the music is an integral part of the film.

“You realize the songs and the music, because of Sondheim’s brilliance, are really extensions of these characters and what they are going through and their motivations and their yearnings,” said Blunt.

Editing by Eric Kelsey and Christian Plumb

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