Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Sweeney Todd - 28 years later........
A thousand years ago, ok 28 years ago, I was a married law student living in Toronto. My husband's grandmother lived in New York City and we used to head down to NYC four or five times a year. I loved "Granny" - she refused to become old - she liked young people, young ideas, young experiences. Seeing New York through her eyes (and through her tireless feet) was a special gift. Anyway....28 years ago, on one trip, I took my mother down to NYC - and I booked tickets to see Sweeney Todd with Angela Lansbury. It was a long dark musical performance - like nothing I had ever seen before. My mother was in shock - the near operatic score was inaccessible to her, the theme was beyond deviant and the blood and gore, though theatrical were upsetting. I'm not quite sure she has ever forgotten that I took her to see that play.
Funnily enough about 15 years later, I found that my teenagers had become Stephen Sondheim fans. We saw many of his other plays, and my son was a fabulous Baker (trust me) in "Into the Woods". One play they had never seen was "Sweeney Todd".
Somehow over the Christmas holidays (when the children and I were together for a few days) we just didn't get time to go and see the movie "Sweeney Todd" - and having seen the play years ago, I wasn't really sure I wanted to see the movie. But yesterday, I rented the movie.
Johnny Depp said that Sweeney Todd is a "musical about a serial killer". Yep - the movie graphically shows the cutting of flesh and the spurting blood; scenes with the meat grinder are gory and campy. The movie has been cut down from the 3 hour stage play - and the music actually fits into the action very well and it is clear that many parts of the stage play have been deleted. Johnny Depp is excellent - he portrays perfectly an insane vengeful man. The movie is visually very beautiful and very artistic - but somehow I'm glad I saw it at home and not on a large screen. An uncomfortable unsettling musical - how often have you ever seen such a thing?