Sweeney Todd Week Question #1 ~ Tim & Johnny's Vision

by George Dibdin Pitt

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:38 pm

Interesting! And smart moves on Tim's part. Thanks for pointing those differences out, Stroch and Fansmom. It's been so long since I've seen the Lansbury/Hearn version, there's no way that I would remember that. I keep meaning to order that video again from the library in order to compare, but I keep forgetting.
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Unread postby suec » Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:24 am

I got to see the film this weekend. :bounce: I knew nothing of the Sondheim musical, as I have very deliberately avoided it. I wanted the surprises. Well, I got them!
I have only the play we read here to compare it with, and also part of a performance that I saw on tv, with Ray Winstone playing Sweeney, written by Joshua St Johnston. It was totally different, with ST being in love with Mrs Lovett, for instance. The performances of ST also couldn't be more different, in some ways. Ray Winstone played him with a combination of strength and vulnerability, and also humility, in some ways. He played with with a lot of humanity, and tenderness at times, and I felt a lot of sympathy for him.
Johnny plays him with his humanity all but ripped out of him, consumed, and this seems completely in accord with Tim's vision, such as showing the close up of his eyes with the fire reflected in them. But I still felt compassion for him. What am I saying? That word doesn't do it justice! I can't describe what I felt: sorrow, dismay, maybe. I was terrified for him at times, when I could see what was about to happen, and was begging him not to do it, because I knew what would happen when he realised. So, surprises there were in abundance, but also a dreadful, dreadful inevitability. The awful grief and pain and longing and rage. It seemed much more of a tragedy to me than horror or the St Johnston version. Itw a sheart-breaking at the end. There was definitely an if only edge to it - if only he wasn't so hellbent on revenge. If he could have responded differently about his daughter. But there was still, somewhere, the remnant of humanity left- the moment when he hesitates to walk into his old room - that was magnificent, a special moment that will stay with me a long time. I was completely enthralled - of course - but in a way that I just wasn't with the other version I saw (sorry, Ray). Johnny's performance was just so rich, so multi-layered, so full of contrasts. For example, the slow, sensual, mocking, provocative, languid and totally deliberate & controlled preparation of the razor in the challenge with Pirelli, compared with the 'kettle' explosion later.
Tim's vision - well, it was very TB. Burton London, as opposed to Georgian London. Trademark TB - and I love his work anyway - but TB at the absolute top of his game. The musical element was a real bonus. So much emotion was conveyed in the singing. Absolutely stunning. :thud:
I can't wait to see it again.
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Unread postby Liz » Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:01 am

Suec, stunning is a very good word for it. I was thinking yesterday, as I saw it for the 3rd time, that I just love the music. I can only say that for 2 versions I’ve seen……the play on tour and the film. I didn’t really think much of the Angela Lansbury play. And the one with the SF Symphony wasn’t a whole lot better. The singing was much better, but it hadn’t grabbed me yet. In my opinion, Sondheim had just never found the right actors, singers and musicians to give his music and vision it’s due until the last few years. No offense to Sondheim. I think he is ultimately responsible for such beautiful music and clever lyrics. He just couldn’t find the right players.
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Alicia » Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:17 pm

I have absolutely nothing to compare the movie with since until they started making it I had never even heard of Sweeney Todd. However, I recently learned that there's a group in Delaware called the Wilmington Drama League and they're going to be doing ST in February. I should really make an effort to go and have another perspective on things. I've enjoyed reading the posts here and it's made me even more determined to see the play!!
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Jan 14, 2008 1:42 pm

For me the difference between the stage version (I have only seen the Hearn/Lansbury one) and the film is the acting. There is less emphasis on the singing, not that they don't all do a fine job of it, and more emphasis on the characters. The actors don't have to be as broad to carry their characters on film like they do on stage and we can see those subtle layer you mentioned suec. And yes, that moment when he just hesitates before he walks into the old apartment...one of the most powerful moment for me as well. You see so much expressed in that one moment.
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Unread postby Liz » Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:03 pm

Alicia wrote:I have absolutely nothing to compare the movie with since until they started making it I had never even heard of Sweeney Todd. However, I recently learned that there's a group in Delaware called the Wilmington Drama League and they're going to be doing ST in February. I should really make an effort to go and have another perspective on things. I've enjoyed reading the posts here and it's made me even more determined to see the play!!


Alicia, you should definitely see the play if you can. I so enjoyed the one I saw recently in San Francisco. I'm curious how smaller theater groups would handle it.....each production I've seen has been so different. Let us know what you think if you go.
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Alicia » Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:12 pm

Liz wrote:
Alicia wrote:I have absolutely nothing to compare the movie with since until they started making it I had never even heard of Sweeney Todd. However, I recently learned that there's a group in Delaware called the Wilmington Drama League and they're going to be doing ST in February. I should really make an effort to go and have another perspective on things. I've enjoyed reading the posts here and it's made me even more determined to see the play!!


Alicia, you should definitely see the play if you can. I so enjoyed the one I saw recently in San Francisco. I'm curious how smaller theater groups would handle it.....each production I've seen has been so different. Let us know what you think if you go.


Gee, now I guess I'll REALLY have to try hard to go!! I'll definitely let you know though if I do.
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