Sweeney Todd

by Megan M. on December 27, 2007 (Music) |

My first Christmas in this apartment was spend wading through wrapping paper, relaxing with friends, engaging in Warcraft-related exploits, and, during the early afternoon, eating meat pies at the Alamo Drafthouse during a much-anticipated film adaptation of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.

Having procured the soundtrack and listened once or twice to jog my memory, I’m a teeny bit embarrassed to admit that it comes off like karaoke—but the movie, I am being completely honest, was awesome. I’d heard that Sondheim was involved in the production at least in terms of cutting down the score to movie-length, and I’m sure that didn’t hurt! I miss the nuance of trained voices, but the movie was really well-done. Sure, I may have patched in my memory of emotional depth from the original cast recording, but I think I would have noticed if the movie was crap. The movie wasn’t crap. ;}

I’ve noticed sometimes that the instrumentation changes for the movie version (for instance, Rent) but that didn’t seem to be the case here. Everything sounded just the way I remembered it, despite cuts, despite (dramatic) vocal differences. Also, Tim Burton obviously knows what he’s doing. The precisely-gauged bloodletting, I feel, was perfect. (Although to be fair, if you haven’t seen the show, or aren’t familiar with it, you won’t be expecting so much blood, stylized or not! So if that’s the case, uh, brace yourselves.)

Marty and I both complained mildly about certain sung lines being turned into spoken ones. I don’t know if that is a result of the less versatile voices, or maybe a condescension to mainstream audiences. I’m only guessing, but those are the only reasons I can think of to turn such delicious Sondheim phrasing into speech. It wasn’t that bad, but we sure did miss some of them. “I’ll come again when you have judge on the menu!” just doesn’t sound right spoken. Bleh!

I do wonder if mainstream audiences are expected to “get” musical nuance. If they were, would they be listening to more traditional opera? Maybe. (Maybe not.)

All this is to say nothing of the delectable Burton visuals, carefully-detailed Goth styling, and Johnny Depp’s adorably emo interpretation. It really was an awesome film. It won’t compare to the George Hearn DVD on its way to me, but it’s not supposed to—it’s a different animal. So I’m happy to have them both, gory as they are. ;}

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