You Asked For It

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  

4 comments:

Brian said... April 9, 2008 at 11:42 AM  

You mentioned Alan Rickman. I wonder, has he ever been bad in a film? He's been in some bad films in his career--"Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves" springs immediately to mind--but he was awesome in that movie, about the only actor who was. I'm just saying, I don't think I've ever seen him be bad in a movie.

NameChanged said... April 11, 2008 at 11:19 AM  

I also feel compelled to watch Johnny Depp! Sure, he's attractive, but there is something more. His presence is hauntingly beautiful.

Anonymous said... April 14, 2008 at 11:08 PM  

"With, is extra."

Joan Rooch

Sniper said... April 17, 2008 at 5:13 PM  

Today, that happens to be: Sweeney Todd (Depp, Carter, Burton, Rickman)


You forgot Spall! I thought he was great. I thought everyone was great, except the romantic leads. Funny how often that happens.

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