Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Tale of Sweeney Todd - the Movie, That Is

When I saw a big movie theater display for Tim Burton's upcoming film version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, I was quite apprehensive. The Sondheim musical, to which jedi jawa exposed me in college, was an eye opener - a brutal tale of bloody revenge gone bad (with a side of cannibalism thrown in for good measure), it showed me that Broadway had a reach beyond the typical toe-tapping leave-the-theater humming musicals I'd known growing up. Would it stand up to the Hollywood treatment, even a treatment as warped as Burton would apply?

Since the movie hasn't come out yet, I'm still not sure. But this piece in today's heartens me a bit, as it explains how deeply involved Sondheim was in cutting things from the play and reworking some musical bits to make it work on screen. Along the way, there's some good points to be made about why theater, and musicals in particular, don't always translate easily (if at all) to the screen. The presence of the original artiste isn't always a guarantee of success - Pete Townsend eviscerated Tommy to such a degree on Broadway that it's hardly recognizable. But it gives me some hope that it'll come out OK.


jedijawa said...

Check out this much longer interview with Sondheim about Sweeney.

Rebecca Burch said...

I'm pretty jazzed about it. Sondheim + Johnny Depp + Tim Burton = creepy good times trifecta, if you ask me.