I finally had the chance to watch Tim Burton’s take on Sweeney Todd last night, and whoo-ee did I enjoy it. Really just a smash bang job, in my opinion. I was very favorably surprised by Depp’s singing, not to mention Bonham Carter. (Alan Rickman’s vocal chops were a tad disappointing, though.) The movie does a tremendous job of taking a musical and turning it into a film–something that many musical adaptations don’t do. They basically turn it into a film version of the musical. It’s hard for me to pinpoint the difference, but if you watch the film, maybe you’ll see. There are no real extravagant dance numbers, no chorus lines, no . . . fluff. It’s a film where the dialogue happens to be sung to a score that’s fantastic. This is a four star movie for me–right up my alley.
But should you see it?
I know that’s what a lot of my readers are wondering. You love Sondheim, and you love the musical, but you’ve heard this movie is graphic and bloody, and you’re hesitant to plop yourself down in the seat for it. Well, let me answer that question for you.
It’s just as bloody as you’ve heard. Probably more so, actually. There are 12 on-screen deaths, most of them with full on, blood-spurting-from-the-neck details. (Just to switch things up a bit, Burton did let us see a person getting burned alive, too. He’s nice like that.) Folks, anytime you have Burton and Depp doing an adaptation of a musical about a barber who slits peoples’ throats and then turns them into meat pies, you’re going to have some blood. Well, lots of blood. But that’s in the Broadway version, too.
The difference between this film and the filmed Broadway version is that everything’s close up. We see actual acting–not Broadway acting. We see actual violence–not Broadway generalities. This is a brutal, disturbing movie, but so’s the musical. Know what you’re getting into before you watch it.
That said, there are no real surprise bloody moments in this movie. You know when the blood’s going to come, and you have plenty of time to close your eyes and not see it. This would be an easy film to self-censor. Just close your eyes for the first few deaths, and then close your eyes for the last eighth of the movie (gets really grisly there). You’ll still be able to hear the music. Just remember–the prettier the music becomes, the more grisly the film gets. Thanks, Sondheim. Now–can I have a Burton/Depp/Sondheim Into the Woods? Pretty please? Depp could be the baker, the wolf, and maybe a prince or two. Awesome.