You Asked For It
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Well, some of you said that you were content to hear whatever it was that I was currently thinking about.
Today, that happens to be: Sweeney Todd (Depp, Carter, Burton, Rickman)
I saw this musical live, onstage, not long after it was first released (with Angela Lansbury and George Hearn). I always loved the music (I love Sondheim, it's true) -- and I've owned the DVD of the Broadway production for some years.
When I rented the DVD of Tim Burton's version, I was prepared to be disappointed, or at least, underwhelmed -- that's generally been my experience when I've seen a movie based on a stage play that I adored. There's usually something so visceral about live theater that movie adaptations rarely pack the same punch.
Strangely, I was not disappointed by the movie.. In any way.
In fact . . . . I was moved by this production in a way that I was not moved by the live production or the Broadway DVD -- and engaged with it in a way that I was not engaged in the stage-production.
I fell in love with much of the music in Sweeney at first listen (I heard the Broadway soundtrack before I saw the play) -- Sondheim's wry wit and the entanglement of simple melody lines with complex rhythms and ever-more-creepy undertone arrangements on established themes enchanted me. (Listen to the differences in the arrangement under Toby's version of "Nothing's Gonna Harm You" and Mrs. Lovett's reprise a few minutes later -- when she's realized that she's gotta off the kid, and the discordant violin saws around amidst the heavenly harp chords.) A college buddy and I delighted in belting out a ghoulish duet of "Have a Little Priest" at every opportunity.
And while I loved seeing it all come to life onstage -- there was something a bit clownish about the production that I saw. I figured this was all to a purpose (after all -- we were talking about mass murder and cannibalism).
It was, however, the ability of film to draw in close and show the subtleties that I loved about this movie. In watching the staged musical, I found it easy to distance myself from these oh-so-hideous and damaged human beings. In movie-form, such distance was impossible, and I actually found it easier to connect to the characters as human-beings, instead of caricatures from a penny-dreadful.
Not to mention that I have a huge crush on Johnny Depp. And only slightly less huge crushes on Alan Rickman and Helena Bonham Carter.
I watched the entire film three times in two days, and have replayed certain sections probably ten times each.
Maybe it's just me, but I do have this thing about Johnny Depp. And it's not his looks (OK -- it's not just his looks) -- there is something compelling for me about Depp -- I can't really figure it out, but the end effect is that when I see him onscreen, I can't seem to take my eyes off him. I do think that he's a fine actor, but I don't think that's all of it. I've had this experience watching him since I first saw him in a movie (maybe Benny and Joon, or possibly, Gilbert Grape). It's just . . . . something.
Anyhoo -- after three days of Sweeney saturation (amidst work and other stuff), I will say that my ONLY disappointment with the film was that they cut one of my favorite bits from "Have a Little Priest":
"How about General?"
"With, or without his privates?"
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:30 PM