Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sweeney Todd Film News

I don't know how reliable this source is but word is making the rounds that it's no longer Sam Mendes on the long-gestating film adaptation of one of Stephen Sondheim's most legendary musicals Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It's now Tim Burton. Sweeney Todd will be played by none other than Burton's longtime muse Edward Scissorhands/Ed Wood/Willy Wonka himself, Johnny Depp. I don't know whether to be delighted or terrified. I love the Burton & Depp combo and they definitely have their stylistics and goth going on...but Sweeney Todd works better (I think) as near-horror rather than as dark whimsy (though it certainly has hilarious moments). And can Depp sing? The Sweeney Todd score is very challenging. And does this mean that Helena Bonham Carter will be Mrs Lovett?

If you don't know what the hell I'm talking about you should...
a) Buy the Sweeney Todd revival CD or the Original Cast recording on CD ~ it's one of the greatest musicals of all time. Learn it. Love it.
b) See the Sweeney Todd revival on Broadway. It's truly jaw-dropping and has been named "Best of the Year" by myself, Modern Fabulousity and at least seven other tiny media outlets you may have heard of too called The New York Post, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, Time Out New York, Newsday, New York Magazine, and USA Today. Yes the show is that good.
c) Read my earlier post about Sondheim's birthday celebration comments regarding the film and a possible lead actor. Also read my gushy review.

13 comments:

Kamikaze Camel said...

Never seen anything about Sweeney Todd nor have I heard any songs. But I'll see most musicals that get released at cinemas.

As I've said before, it's extremely hard to see theatre for me. I should try and find the CD at a library or something. I'm sure they'd have it.

Arkaan said...

Yes you should.

Steven Sondheim is (and has been since the 70's) in a class of his own. The variety of his output, the depth, the astonishing range - it's all there. And Sweeney Todd is his best film.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Sam Mendes was a strange choice: his stagework (specifically Cabaret, from what I've read) revels in sleaziness, and his staging of Assassins was supposed to be great (indeed, that early staging probably ensured that the show wouldn't be forgotten). But his film work: he tends to prettify more than necessary. Nathaniel was spot on in his review of [i]Road to Perdition[/i]: it's a story of vegeance and the terror that it wreaks on ones life, so why does it look so fucking pretty? A pretty Sweeney will not work.

So who? I always thought Neil Jordan could do a spectacular job: he's shown commitment to darker material (see The Butcher Boy), he knows how to stage scenes and setpieces, and he seems to have the right mentality. Julie Taymor has shown an ability to stage HUGE scenes and that could be worthy, but she also tends to impose her own stamp, and Sweeney Todd is already auterial enough (though I know the recent revival would make fun of me for saying that). I'm mixed on Tim Burton. If we were to remove the fairy tale whimsy that he sometimes adds, I'd say have at it. But I agree: you need to play it fairly straight and very dark. The humour is there, but don't try to force it.

Anonymous said...

Beg to differ on Road To Perdition, which I feel to be - if not quite the best (Talk To Her) - then certainly the second best film of that year.

However, Sweeney is a work of true genius, and I'm fearful of another movie musical screw up.

Rob

Anonymous said...

Also, off topic (until another post), but Knightley rather than Dench in the FB Actress lineup? Huh?!

It's almost like Knightley is getting bonus points for stretching to give a 'good' performance, whilst Dench and Collette are being penalised for already being great actresses...

Rob

Anon in Yorkshire said...

Ooooh. I adore Sondheim, Sweeney, Depp and Burton but I have very mixed feelings about this particular combination - not sure why, just something about that mix sounds a little wrong. Hopefully I will be the wrong one and I'll adore it. I want to love this so much and I'm afraid, very afraid.

Doesn't Dame Rumour also say that Sondheim is going to be closely involved with this project? If so, that bodes at least interestingly.

Arkaan said...

Rob, Road to Perdition barely missed my bottom ten that year, so different strokes for different folks.

Anonymous said...

that's off the point too,but you posted best actress.and i thought you liked gwyneth paltrow more than knightley(you wrote so in your earlier in year for academy voters.)so how come she's not even in finalists?i'm surprised.

Klemen

Gerry said...

Sweeney Todd is brilliant. Burton is brilliant. Depp is brilliant.
But even I must admit I'm not altogether sold on this project.

Though let's take this news with a grain of salt.

NATHANIEL R said...

it just seems a little too spot on this Burton/Sweeney material. Like a typical hollywood example of shallow thinking: Sweeney is GOTHIC. who does GOTHIC? Burton! Get him.

the overall sensibility is more important than the previous films looks - i think... at least when approaching already great material. so i don't quite get this. seems a little too whimsical light for Sweeney.

as per Paltrow and Knightley. I changed my mind. BUT I forgot to include Paltrow... i will add her in the honorables.

adam k. said...

I think Toni Collette should play Mrs. Lovett so she will have a supporting oscar to go with the best actress oscar she will win for "Liza".

Though if Depp does play Sweeney Todd and actually pulls it off, I think that comedy/musical globe he has almost won so many times should finally be his.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Wasn't there a rumour about Imelda Staunton at one point?

However, what about Alan Parker? Does NOBODY remember that he directed one of the greatest musicals ever in the form of Bugsy Malone??? Thought so...

(I too like Road to Perdition than most I think, not Top 10 worthy but closeish)

Pedro said...

I saw Sweeney Todd (the Broadway production) several years back (almost 8) in tv. It was on Bravo, I think. Angela Lansbury was in it. They basically taped the stage version of the play. I also saw Into the Woods and maybe another play. I don't think Bravo shows those plays anymore. What a shame!

I don't think that Tim Burton and Depp are right for this material. Again, the tone will be way off.

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