What’s a fairy tale without a moral? And Disney’s big-screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, with its dark-twist mashup of many well-known Grimm’s Fairy Tales, has several morals to spare.
Disney’s advertising and marketing department came up with “Be careful what you wish for,” for the film’s poster tagline and ostensible fairy-tale moral; but in a nod to the level of precise detail and exactitude accorded every frame of Into the Woods, director Rob Marshall and the film’s prop designers have stealthily hidden the film’s true moral (at least the lesson each character learns by the end of the movie) in plain sight where no one but the members of the cast could see it: on the inscription of the gold coins Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) steals from the Giant.
From a display of props from Into the Woods at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood: Jack's slingshot, The Magic Beans, and the Giant's Gold Coins
The Latin motto inscribed along the edges of the coin reads: FABER EST SUAE QUISQUE FORTUNAE (roughly translated: "Every man is the architect of his own fate") - a quote attributed to ancient Roman politician, Appius Claudius Caecus (340 BC - 273 BC)
So whether translated as "Every man is the architect of his own fortune," or "Every man determines his own fate," the message is clear: Our decisions and actions determine what course our lives will be like.
And in a movie that ends with every character forced to accept the responsibility for their actions, I'd say this is a very fine moral for any fairy tale.
To see mores costumes and props from Into the Woods, visit Koo Koo California