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The fashion is way too anachronistic for 1800.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 13, 2007 4:40 PM

Since when were musicals supposed to be historically accurate?

I bet that the real French revolutionaries never fake-marched in a perfect V-formation, but that doesn't make Les Mis any less of a good show.

Posted by boxofbirds | December 13, 2007 4:41 PM

Geez, Dan, you can pull up a map of London online in about three seconds. The answer is yes, St. Paul's is upstream from Tower Bridge.

At the time the movie was set, I think there was only one bridge across the Thames, London Bridge, the original medieval one, not the one that's there now or even the John Rennie replacement, which might have been in construction then -- maybe THAT'S what they meant?

No, I see that Westminster Bridge would have been built by then. Again, not the one that's there now.

Posted by Fnarf | December 13, 2007 4:42 PM

I suppose next you're going to tell us johnny depp isnt english. the travesty!

Posted by Bellevue Ave | December 13, 2007 4:45 PM

Also--and brace yourselves for this one--chipmunks do not sing!

I know!

Posted by boomer in NYC | December 13, 2007 4:46 PM

In any case, it's somewhat unlikely that a fully-rigged sailing ship would have ventured quite that far up the Thames, since the main dockyards for London were located a little more than a mile downriver at Wapping.

Posted by COMTE | December 13, 2007 4:46 PM

I've always wanted to comment in the goofs section of movies like Harry Potter, saying "Magic doesn't exist." I don't really see how different that is from an anachronism - don't people randomly and publicly burst into song in this movie?

Posted by Ziggity | December 13, 2007 4:47 PM

Yikes. Yes, that's true. Couldn't get past the bridges.

Posted by Fnarf | December 13, 2007 4:48 PM

@5--if you squeeze them hard enough, they'll sing.

Trust me.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 13, 2007 4:49 PM

Hey, they pulled the ad with Big Ben in it, they didn't say, "Hey, this is a musical, people!" So... I thought I'd point this out.

Posted by Dan Savage | December 13, 2007 4:50 PM

C'mon, Big Ben is the name of the main bell inside the clock tower, it's NOT the name of the tower itself.

Posted by Perfect Voter | December 13, 2007 4:57 PM

I thought it was Big Sven...!

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | December 13, 2007 5:06 PM

@11 As a fellow Pedant, I can only say "Thank You"

Posted by Malcolm in Sydney | December 13, 2007 5:07 PM

Further search reveals a plethora of information about Sweeney Todd both in fiction and non-. Enjoy. As for anachronisms, watches and sunglasses were noted in the throngs of Romans attending the chariot race in "Ben-Hur" - so Big Ben /Clock Tower - not so much...

Posted by MARIAN THE WIKIPEDIA LIBRARIAN | December 13, 2007 5:12 PM

Dan, that could be the first of the errors section at

The trivia is already pretty good

Posted by Lake | December 13, 2007 5:24 PM

my expertise lies north of the humber

Posted by Jiberish | December 13, 2007 5:31 PM

As the costumes and production design indicate, this film obviously isn't set in 1800...more likely it's set sometime in the late 1840s or early 1850s.
(Sweeney Todd as we know him is largely a fictional creation, popularized in 1846 publication entitled "The String of Pearls: A Romance"...the movie seems to reflect this version of the character).

Posted by jkluska | December 13, 2007 5:40 PM

All in all, it was fairly good.

Still a wonderful film, deserving of its many nominations.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 13, 2007 6:00 PM

This is Tim Burton. It's all about the look. To hell with everything else, e.g coherent stories, compelling plots, etc.

Yeah, I'll see it. Hopefully it won't suck *ss as bad as PLANET OF THE APES did.

Posted by glendaleted | December 13, 2007 6:03 PM

Have to admit I chuckled as well to see such an attempt at pendantry (if you will allow the word) foiled by it's own inaccuracy. Big Ben != Clock Tower.

BTW: Not to be repetitive, but rumor has it that S. Toddd *did not exist at all*. And if he did, there is no evidence that he routinely burst into song.

These revelations should be sufficient to undermine any plans educators have for using *Sweeney Todd* as a historical text.

Posted by JayHoytt | December 13, 2007 6:34 PM

Damn you, JayHoytt!

Posted by Dan Savage | December 13, 2007 6:40 PM

I haven't seen the images of the ship in question, but tall ships couldn't sail up the Thames as far as the Bridge. There are smallish waterfalls (probably gone, now) that impede their passage. The closest they could get was Rotherhithe, which in 1800 was outside the city.

Posted by Chaucer | December 13, 2007 6:56 PM

Are you sure? The direction of the Thames changes with the tide. I've seen it with my own eyes.

Also, a whale recently got lost up in it and was seen near the tower "formerly known as Big Ben". How'd that bloody whale make it up the waterfalls?

Posted by Henrietta | December 13, 2007 7:31 PM

yeah and people keep breaking out into song? what's up with that man? did people even DO that in the 1800's??


Posted by Cale | December 13, 2007 8:46 PM

Good point, Cale. People in the 1800s broke out in OPEN SORES.

Posted by Fnarf | December 13, 2007 9:18 PM

None of this matters.....It's only the best musical ever written.....I absolutely can't wait.

I saw the recent Broadway staging twice (once in New York and this past fall in SF) and it was once again amazing.

I've always thought that it was probably set in the 1830s or 40s, when London was the largest and filthiest city in Europe (and maybe the world).....

As a singer eons ago, I have to say being in this show was the highlight of my experience in theater. My voice never sounded better before or after that show (in 1983!) Sondheim does not write music that is easy.

Posted by Mike Friedman | December 13, 2007 9:22 PM

As a resident of the city where Stephen Sondheim sent Sweeney, I would like to chime in (pun intended) with some information to assist in this discussion. Transportation to the colony of New South Wales was officially abolished on 1 October 1850.

Sweeney would have to have been sent here prior to that (ie soimetime in the mid 1830s at the very latest).

I have seen it twice in the Sydney Opera House, which is not too far from where the (entirely fictional) Benjamin Barker would have been disembarked in irons.

Posted by Malcolm in Sydney | December 13, 2007 9:46 PM

Thats it... no Oscar for you.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | December 14, 2007 8:38 AM

huh? I think Sondheim's Sweeney Todd is set in mid Victorian London and is told in the style of the penny dreadfuls of the period.

Posted by michael strangeways | December 14, 2007 9:31 AM

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