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Sweeney Todd


Guest Michaelnc
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Guest Michaelnc

*Spoiler Alert*

 

This whole post is going to be (and elicit, I hope) spoilers about the movie of *Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street* that just opened. Stop reading if you want to be surprised.

 

Has anyone else seen it yet? I never wanted to see the show when it was on Broadway, but I thought the movie was great. Neither Johnny Depp nor Helena Bonham Carter can sing much, but I think it's a testament to their acting that I didn't notice that while I was watching (it's only after listening on Youtube that I can see how weak their singing is). Bonham Carter has some really challenging patter songs - lots of complicated lyrics sung quite fast - that she pulled off very well. I have often complained in the past about casting actors who can't sing in musicals, but it really did not bother me here. I would have walked out of Woody Allen's movie musical from the late 1990s (was it called *Everyone Says I Love You*?) because I was so pissed off at how bad the singing was, but I was stuck in the middle of a row and couldn't get out easily.

 

Were the parts of the younger romantic characters more important in the original show? I know Sondheim agreed to lots of cuts to make the movie shorter, so I assume Anthony and Johanna were less cipher-like and better-developed before. They pop in and out of the movie very quickly, and are left hanging in a very odd way. Johanna is stuck in the barber shop as everyone gets killed in the basement - and where's Anthony gotten to?

 

Toby seems much younger in the movie than in the Youtube clips I've seen from the stage, making it that much more gruesome when he slits Sweeney Todd's throat. How old was he supposed to be on Broadway? The kid in the movie is a very good singer, by the way.

 

Are there any major plot changes in the transition from stage to screen?

 

Finally, Sasha Baron Cohen is showing quite the bulge in his tight pants in his relatively short time on screen.

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I saw "Sweeney Todd" yesterday and loved it. It is one of the darkest musicals from Stephen Sondheim and director Tim Burton added his macabre dark touch to the film. Depp was great. Looking like a cross between Edward Scissorhands and the Bride of Frankenstein, he did a damn fine job at tackling some of the toughest lyrics ever written. Helena Bonham Carter was a total surprise. As Mrs. Lovett she pulled off a tough role and her singing wasn't bad at all. The movie has been adapted from the musical play and there are differences.

 

I've see 3 productions of "Sweeney Todd" on Broadway, including the 1979 original with Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou, and who can forget Patti Lupone's recent triumph as Mrs. Lovett.

 

Sacha Baron Cohen didn't bother me at all and as the Great Perelli, he certain did have quite a bulge in his trousers!

 

Also, not to be missed this movie season, "National Treasure' with Nicolas Cage and the great Helen Mirren as his Mom! Exciting, adventurous and a lot of fun. I wish I could say Will Smith's "I Am Legend" was great too, but I didn't find it that interesting, although the computer special effects of a the deserted streets of Manhattan crumbling in ruin were very good.

 

Ed

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Saw the film this week while I was in Palm Springs.

I had seen the stage production in several incarnations.

Yes the film has cut a number of songs and has cut the chorus altogether. It's easy to understand both choices. I thought the material held up very well in spite of the cuts. Funny tho, having seen the show enough times, the orchestra in a way replaces the chorus by playing the main theme (Sweeney Todd) at various points. I found myself singing the lyrics quietly in the absence of the chorus.

The early showing I saw was sparsely attended.

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I enjoyed the movie also but missed "Attend the Tale of Sweeny Todd". Also saw the earlier stage productions. I have an autographed copy of the original cast album. When I went to the store to have them autographed I had six copies. Friends wanted me to get them for them. I had a few minutes to talk to Angela Lansbury. She was very icy and never looked up. A real diva. I loved it.

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Glad to hear the movie keeps the feel of the original without a literal transfer. It's a show that would be all too easy to "soften" for movie (i.e. commercial) audiences.

 

I'll be seeing it on stage at the Ahmanson early in 2008 so I'm not sure I want to see the movie.

 

I've played in the pit orchestra for this show. Sondheim is ALWAYS a bitch for the woodwinds! Quick changes from bass clarinet to piccolo are awkward at best, and common. Sweeney isn't as bad as Follies in that regard, but still rather athletic for the woodwinds.

 

Not sure I want the movie version in my head so near to seeing it on stage. (My first time seeing it from outside the orchestra pit.)

 

I'll wait for the DVD.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw Sweeney this evening, and loved it. I love Johnny Depp anyway - he's one of the most interesting actors around. So many of the characters were younger than usually portrayed on Broadway, which would be true to life if not to the stage.

 

But for me the high point was young Ed Sanders as Toby. What a marvelous actor, brilliantly directed. And his "Not While I'm Around" will now be the definitive version -- and deserves to be.

I defy you not to be moved:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UcfLxCHMpc&feature=related

 

This kid is the greatest.

Bravo!

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Sorry, but this Toby is WAY too young for the part. It should be played by a teenager, not a ten year old. He has a thing for Mrs. Lovett and "Not While I'm Around" is ruined by having it sung, sort of, by a ten year old.

 

Neil Patrick Harris is, by far, the definitive Toby.

 

The movie is a mess. As the NYTimes said it's played like it were one of the "Saw" films. The portrayals are very one-dimensional. You'd never get from this film that Mrs. Lovett has a vulnerable side. It's not there.

 

And no one in the film can sing. That's a mistake. They should have been dubbed or cast with actors who could sing. Or film it as a straight play and forget the music entirely.

 

Mark

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I disagree. I also thought the Toby was magnificent, and my estimation of him is increased by hearing the soundtrack recording the other day. The point is that with their untrained voices, the leads provide a touch of realism that makes the story even more effective.

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: Sweeney Todd

 

I would hardly call a $40 million dollar box office gross a "box office bomb."

 

The film has been in the top ten since it's release and has popped up on many Top Ten Films of 2007 lists. There's Oscar buzz for Depp's performance, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he'll get a Golden Globe and beat John Travolta next week.

 

Sorry you didn;t enjoy the film but everyone I've spoken to that has seen it have enjoyed it immensely.

 

ED

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First of all, I wouldn't call Sondheim a sell out. Yes, he has approval of everything but he hasn't exactly been selling out--or is the Ice Capades version of Into the Forest or Assassins next?

 

Second, that this movie got made is a miracle. A wall-to-wall, obscure musical with very little mass appeal? The only reason it got made was because Tim Burton and Johnny Depp where part of the project. That it has made $40 million is a second miracle. I'm sure that it will make a tidy sum in DVD sales from all of us Sondheim admirers (aka Byway Queens).

 

Third, many people thought Rex Harrison couldn't sing either.

 

Fourth, have you seen the movie version of A Little Night Music?

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