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RSS icon Comments on Sweeney Todd at Harvard Exit Last Night


I was there last night and thought the movie was really fantastic. I've been a long time fan of the musical and thought that Tim Burton did a remarkable job of filming it and leaving most of Sondheim's score intact, except for the Ballad of Sweeney Todd, although I totally understand why it was removed. Sondheim's music sounded beautiful and scary and perfect on a big screen (he was inspired by the film scores of Bernard Herrmann). The movie looks amazing and the whole film is totally haunting. The images of bloody necks cracking as bodies landed hard on their heads were nothing in my opinion compared to watching Mrs. Lovett meet her horrible end. Helena Bonham-Carter is not a Broadway type singer (and no Angela Lansbury), but I think gave the most memorable performance in the entire film.

Posted by Darrell | December 12, 2007 10:25 AM

I saw the SIFF preview last Sunday. Great way to start Sunday, Bloody Sunday. I loved Tim burton's film adaptation. The score was perfect, the acting superb, and the tone much darker and more insightful than stage presentations I've seen. This should be on everyone's must-see list. But not before a full meal.

Posted by DaiBando | December 12, 2007 10:31 AM

Make the Burton.

Posted by DaiBando | December 12, 2007 10:31 AM

Its my new favorite Tim Burton live action. That's saying a lot - I think they did a fantastic job of weeding out the cheese of theatre (which is fantastic in a stage show) and sticking to the emotional core. Beautiful.

Posted by Carlydear | December 12, 2007 10:32 AM

Damn. "that Burton." I guess that's what the preview feature is for.

Posted by DaiBando | December 12, 2007 10:32 AM

Nothing will ever replace Edward Scissorhands. Nothing.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 12, 2007 10:33 AM

Yes, I was there last night, I really loved it, it was dark, some slight touches of humor. Johnny Depp actually sang really well I thought. Tim Burton did a fine job. Pretty gory, perfect film for Christmas? HA.

Posted by Nick | December 12, 2007 10:38 AM

I recommend taking the kids and then for the ultimate laugh, serve them a Marie Callendar's pot pie for dinner. Skip the finger food, though.

Posted by Spoogie | December 12, 2007 10:44 AM

I loved that Burton "younged" everyone down to believable ages - after all who of England's underclass then lived much past 50? The absence of the shrieking factory whistle marking the musical's ominous beginning was more than offset by the thunderous organ orchestration.

But it's Depp's show all the way - along with superb star turns by Sacha Baron Cohen (Pirelli) and Alan Rickman (Judge Turpin). As Darrell notes above, ST devotees will note many cuts, but they are inoffensive cuts and the film moves along in a suitably tragic pace.

The word "opera" scares many moviegoers, but Burton makes no apology for easily moving his characters into song - and it simply f--king works. Sondheim-ophiles who loved the original stage production should love this film.

The SIFF theatre at 1030 Sunday morning was packed, most of whom were Sweeney Todd junkies because there were so few gasps at the grisliness. But Judge Turpin's denouement surpassed anything ever staged and oh, how much he deserved it. Never forget. Never forgive.

Prepare your Oscar speech, Mr. Depp.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | December 12, 2007 10:51 AM

Can't fucking wait.

I spent my birthday (last year? year before?) at the Fifth Ave's production and we were all pissed at the abysmal production values.

Posted by seattle98104 | December 12, 2007 11:08 AM

I singled out Helena Bonham Carter above for her performance because her Mrs. Lovett was so drastically different than anyone I've ever seen do it on stage. It was a very quiet, desperate reading that was, at times, heartbreaking. That said, there is not a bad performance in this whole movie. Johnny Depp gives a performance that will undoubtedly be one of his most revered. I hope the Oscar voters can see past all the blood and gore.

Posted by Darrell | December 12, 2007 11:10 AM

I was at the SIFF preview on Sunday, too. I had never even heard of this musical until that little bit that was staged in Kevin Smith's "Jersey Girl" (the best part of that flick), so I didn't know the story. Also, I hate musicals. The movie is stunningly beautiful to look at, Depp, Borat, and Rickman are great, and my stomach churned in all the appropriate places. The plot is kinda slight, and there are many scenes that drag on a little long purely because "the song ain't over yet." While I think it's the most satisfying Burton film in a while (man, what was the last really good one?), I kept returning to one thought: "Who is this movie FOR?" My mom, who loves musicals, will never be able to stomach the violence. Horror fans are gonna be bored watching lovestruck teenagers singing songs to each other. And I say this as someone who LIKED the movie. I predict disappointing box office, and maybe some Oscar noms for technical aspects of the production. No acting noms.

Posted by Yogi | December 12, 2007 11:29 AM

Yogi: The Golden Globes will be announced tomorrow, and - at minimum - ST will receive three acting nominations. Bet?

Posted by TOO GOOD AT LEAST | December 12, 2007 11:54 AM

Saw ST with Ms. Lansbury about a hundred years ago. I adored every minute - even though it was a pretty long night in the theatre. Didn't get a chance to see the much-heralded revival with Ms. LuPone. May I assume this Mrs. Lovett is closer in tone to Ms. LuPone's?

Posted by Bauhaus | December 12, 2007 11:57 AM

I saw the SIFF preview of Sweeney Todd as well, which was packed and turned away lots of people.

It was a great film. Fun for the whole family!

That said, you might want to skip eating meat pies or hamburger after seeing the movie, cause it was a teensy bit bloody.

Definitely a must see movie!

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 12, 2007 12:07 PM

@14, not even close. Patti Lupone is over the top in stage presence and vocally. Helena Bonham-Carter's characterization is a much quieter, more desperate, and pathetic realization. Really worth seeing.

Posted by DaiBando | December 12, 2007 12:09 PM

I get delightfully dizzy seeing cleavage while the screenlove of my life gets kinky with Depp.

Posted by Tim Kockold | December 12, 2007 12:09 PM

@14: H.B.C. is a much more layered, less sinister Lovett than Patti PuPone. She becomes the most sympathetic character in the entire film.

Posted by Darrell | December 12, 2007 12:14 PM

I also saw it Sunday and really liked it, esp Helena Bonham Carter; I thought she did an excellent job and I'm a little annoyed she's not getting the love that Johnny, (who was also great) has been getting.

Other things I loved: sets, costumes, make-up, cinematography, a great use of CGI to showcase Victorian London; Sacha Baron Cohen was very good, though it's a bit annoying that he always has to act with his crotch.

Things I wasn't so crazy about: I though Alan Rickman underplayed a bit much; the young lovers were boring, but they were boring in the stage production, too; they're nothing more than a plot device. And the Beggar Woman should have been used more throughout the course of the film. In the stage production, she's always around hovering on the edges of things, (for obvious reasons, if you're familiar with the plot), but Burton didn't do that enough in the film.

Things I despised: the little boy who played Toby could sing like an angel, but was a dreadful actor; absolutely no expression on his face or in his eyes. Mrs Lovett's demise was WAAAAAAAAY too gruesome; this is NOT a film for kids or the faint hearted. And the ending was a bit of a letdown; apparently they filmed the last song, the last reprise of "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" but it didn't 'work' in the context of the film.

A lot of people liked it at SIFF, but I also heard several people grumble about it but they acted like they weren't musical fans or Sondheim fans so I'm not really sure why the hell they were there...

Posted by michael strangeways | December 12, 2007 12:16 PM

oops...I guess I did leave a spoiler in there, but since this is a film adaptation of a 30 year old Broadway musical classic which is also an adaptation of a 300 year old story, then I'm not feeling too bad about it.

Posted by michael strangeways | December 12, 2007 12:21 PM

@13 - no bet, TGAL - I wouldn't be surprised if the flick gets some acting noms at the GG's. But no way, no how will there be Oscar acting noms, since the Oscars are basically a popularity contest voted on by The Old Hollywood Guard(TM).

And I'll give HBC some belated props, she was really great in the movie, and her, uh, fate is the most horrifying moment in the movie.

Posted by Yogi | December 12, 2007 12:34 PM

to be honest, I thought it was a trifle bit misogynistic and strange, (Mrs Lovett's fate). Why did she deserve a more torturous death than any of the other characters? (or at least, why was it dwelt on?)

And it IS a bit creepy when you consider that her BF is the one who came up with and filmed such a horrific fate for his lady love...

Posted by michael strangeways | December 12, 2007 1:08 PM

She burnt up in the flames of her love.

I mean, come on, michael, I thought it was obvious.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 12, 2007 1:13 PM

Lovett and Sweeney are consumed by their own devices. Both were particularly gruesome, yet appropriate. Why shouldn't they meet the worst fates?

Posted by Darrell | December 12, 2007 1:25 PM

getting your throat slit: pretty awful and painful but quick.

burning up in an oven: pricelessly painful and not so quick.

Posted by michael strangeways | December 12, 2007 1:48 PM

I don't get can you be prevented from writing about it?

Is it a we-won't-advertise-with-you-if sort of thing?

I'm scratching my head here...

Posted by question | December 12, 2007 2:32 PM

Well, yes, but it's symbolic.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 12, 2007 2:35 PM

The studios will NOT like you and not invite you to screenings for awhile. The punishment sort of depends on how much they need that particular press outlet. Plus, there's the whole journalistic integrety thing.

Though, it's interesting that a lot of journalists have already leaked their reviews which the studios don't really mind that much if it's a positive sneak review.

Posted by michael strangeways | December 12, 2007 2:40 PM

Michael, Tim Burton did not come up with that fate for Mrs. Lovett.

Posted by Jennifer | December 12, 2007 5:37 PM

I didn't read all the comments in fear of spoilers or even non-spoilers that give away too much. I can't wait though. I get wet just watching the preview. So far everything looks awesome.

Posted by GirlDuJourToday | December 12, 2007 7:20 PM


i know. I've seen the stage production. I'm objecting to the lingering nature of the death. I have no problem with scary shit, but it just seemed kind of mean and unnecessarily gross and disturbing.

Posted by michael strangeways | December 13, 2007 12:35 PM

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