alice_confetti (alice_confetti) wrote in sondheim_lovers,

Sweeney Todd

Hey, guys,

I really want to see Sweeney Todd, but I'm kind of a chicken. Is the movie REALLY scary and/or gorey? I love the musical, but even watching the stage version from 1982 creeps me out a bit. Did it give anyone nightmares? Also, is it good/okay/horrible? It's getting great reviews but whenever I hear the singing (especially by Johnny Depp) I cringe a bit. Does it all hang together?
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I personally hated the movie, but I hate everything.

Sweeney Todd (the movie) is INCREDIBLY gory. I'm incredibly squeamish, and shrugged off what everyone said about the blood. Come on, it's Sweeney! It can't be that bad!

It really was. I was freaaaaking out. It's also slightly upsetting, because you try to focus on the movie, but they continue to throw the blood in your face. It's sort of painful.

You also see Ms. Lovett burning in the oven.
I think this it's an adaptation for a mature, intelligent audience, and not for purists or—as houseaddict91 notes—the squeamish. The violence is stylized so that it's not entirely realistic, but it's still graphic, frightening, and certainly not cartoonish or laughable. Visually, I think it meshes well with the dark, Gothic revival feel of the whole film.

I was worried about seeing Sondheim's work torn apart, but I really enjoyed the movie. There are lots of surprises for even the most avid fan: visual, orchestral, foley, dramatic, etc. Just be aware that it is an adaptation, and so certain things are bound to be—ahem—sliced up.
The violence has been covered above, so let me say that Johnny Depp's singing is better than you would expect. His voice is decent, and his phrasing is actually pretty good. Helena Bonham Carter's voice, on the other hand, is weak. If it will bother you that the singing is not perfect or that they took some songs out, don't go. I liked it a lot, and Sweeney is my favorite show in the world--but I was not going in expecting the show, so I was okay with the changes. If I want the show, I'll pop in the Lansbury DVD.
The movie's good. There are problems, but it's easily the best Sondheim musical ever translated to film.

The blood didn't bother me. See it with a friend if you're scared, that's my advice. We need to support Sondheim!
I really didn't like the movie. I felt like the concepts weren't applied consistently and they cut out some of my favorite parts.

Sondheim thinks it's his best musical ever translated to film, and many smart people (like Mark) agree with him.

I flinch at onscreen violence but have never been bothered by an onstage production of Sweeney (to define my own squeamishness).
This movie is excessively gory, with blood soaking shirts and splattering windows. The blood is a stylized red paint.

There's a scene in, I believe it's Fargo, where a guy gets shot in the chest and flies backwards and hits the wall behind him. My high school film analysis class loved that: oh wow, how cool. If you can tap into that emotion, you should be able to at least pleasantly endure Sweeney.

If that emotion is unavailable to you, as it is to me, avoid it. Spend your ten bucks on Sweeney and sneak into Juno. The blood in the movie is horrible.
Well, I don't know if I agree with the Fargo comparison. I don't really like Fargo at all, and I liked Sweeney. Of course, we can talk about this in more detail the next time I see you. But do you think that ALNM or Forum is a better film of Sondheim's work?
I've seen the movie twice now: once to experience it, then once to dissect it a little more. Sondheim himself sanctioned most of the changes/deletions, and the piece holds up despite nitpicks. Johnny Depp found the fine line between sympathy and mania and carries off Epiphany very well; I found Helena Bonham Carter a little harder to accept, since her interpretation is rather short on the humor, although there is some.

What impressed me the most was the sound of the score, orchestrally. Even without the words, "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" is exciting as all get-out. Do yourself a favor and see it in a cinema with an excellent sound system. I found that I was able to hear the lines and lyrics a lot more clearly at the Ziegfeld in Manhattan than the place I first saw it in Florida. (Burton should have encouraged the actors to speak up a little more; I found there's a lot of mumbling).
Actually, according to Helena, Burton encouraged them to mumble more - apparently he stopped the recording sessions several times and told them their diction was too good.
That is fascinating. Do you happen to remember where you read/heard that? [/long shot]

I do find that "A Little Priest" loses a lot without the crisp diction, but I thought the more intimate singing style worked beautifully in most of the film (esp. "My Friends").
Thanks for all of your thoughtful comments - actually everyone's differing opinions make me more curious so I think I'll just have to suck it up and go see it (despite the fact that they show Mrs. Lovett in the oven - ew!).