charloween: (shiny!)
This is the fourth version of Sweeney Todd I know. I've seen it on stage in two very different versions, have the original cast recording (with Angela Lansbury as Mrs Lovett!) so it was only a matter of time before I saw this latest film version. The good, the bad and the ugly:

The good Sondheim! How is this a bad thing? )

The bad Attend the tale of... oh, I guess not. )

The ugly: There might have been something wrong with the projector or this copy of the film, 'cause there was serious lighting issues going on towards the end of the reel with "Not While I'm Around". The darker tones were all faded blown out on a few angles, which is a problem in a film that's lit rather dark.

All in all, I had a good time. I giggled through the entire opening credits sequence. Even if Johnny Depp was disappointingly zombified through a lot of the film, there was still enough of the spark o'life and humour left to give a few chuckles.

(OT: saw the movie with my brother. Brother informed me that his female classmates decided he has McDreamy hair. Hate to admit it, but it's true. Minor teasing ensued. :D)
charloween: (goaty grin)
Today I got my culture on.

Mum and I went to see Sweeney Todd, had meat pies for dinner (for some reason, we both had a craving), and then later went with Amy, her sister and some peeps to see Enchanted.

Together, they made for an interesting day.

Actually, together, they make me wonder about the way you can tell stories. Enchanted, for obvious reasons, 'cause it's a Disney film that simultaneously is a typical Disney film while sending itself up. Too clever by half. Predictable, but pleasant: more than pleasant, really. The actors were all committed to the wacky, and it really worked. I'm so buying it on DVD when it comes out. Unlike something like Spamalot, they stayed away from being mockingly ironic, and it worked very well.

Sweeney Todd, on the other hand, took some huge chances, and almost made it. It's worth to see for the incredible technical accomplishment. Ten people, on stage for nearly three hours, playing all the instruments (there's no orchestra, just the actors), performing an opera (it's all singing, no talking). There aren't any entrances or exits, the curtain doesn't go up or down. All the props are at the back of the stage, and the set changes are achieved by the same ten people moving stuff around. The fact they pull off any show at all is remarkable. I mean, it's an insane amount of work these people do when you think about how much support is usual for a big show. For that alone, it's worth seeing. It's an incredibly risky move to put so much of your show in ten pairs of hands. With this production, it's almost successful.

The problem is you're watching this Brechtian theatre, and this kind of theatre doesn't necessarily serve the story all that well. We spend so much time watching the production being produced that we lose plot and characters in the technical accomplishment. The story is fantastic (by which I mean: music, lyrics and plot), and the technical stuff was mind-blowing, but they didn't work as well together as they could have. As a show, Sweeney can be brutally disturbing, morally complex and deeply creepy in all its gothic glory. They way they did it, they didn't let the story take precidence, so they skirted over the nuances of the plot. Doing so, they also stripped it of any moral shades-of-grey. I mean, for a story about revenge and murder and cannibalism, the only stance they took was that killing people... happens, sometimes. I've seen this show performed when they got deep into the characters, playing with themes of insanity and whether or not Todd is justified in murdering lots of people. With this? It's an opera about a man's descent into madness turned into light musical comedy.

So the question I'm left with - comparing the two ways of telling this story - is simply: if the story is strong, does it matter how it's told? Just as long as you get the core of it, does it matter so much what variations are thrown on top? Yes, the variations are what you watch for, what make it interesting. But you go for the story itself, right? Enchanted would argue that no, it doesn't matter. Disney films have been telling the same story since the 40s, with minute variations, but the story is still pretty solid (or maybe just 'marketable').

With Sweeney Todd, this production had iffy moments and the risks it took didn't quite pan out, but since I love the show itself so much, the way it was mounted did in no way hamper my enjoyment of it.
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