Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Sweeney Todd Review

Well, I saw Sweeney Todd yesterday afternoon as promised. Sigh, I was yet again underwhelmed by Hollywood. I have enough affection for the play to have basically enjoyed the movie and it’s certainly worth any Broadway fan’s time. But there is nothing particularly special about this movie. It is a competent adaptation of the play. But one shouldn’t strive to be competent, should one?

Director Tim Burton has a reputation for visual splendor; but his skill is almost strictly static. He can create beautiful looking things, but he has no particular gift for interesting interaction. There were few moments of interesting choreography between character movements or scene juxtaposition. It also lacks interesting camera angles. We spend virtually the entire movie at eye level and at a medium distance from the characters. This is classic mediocre filmmaking.

The first minute of this YouTube clip of the play shows the sheer genius of Broadway artists. They have created a center stage round-about that acts as Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop and Sweeney Todd’s murderous barber shop, as well as other setting. It is constructed to allow multiple scenes to unfold simultaneously, one right on top of the other, each playing off the others and it’s visually the stuff of genius.

I could watch the video of the play a dozen times and still want to see it again. Sadly, I’m done with the movie, forever.

1 comment:

Mike B. said...

See, I don't respond much to visuals, so it wouldn't even occur to me to appraise it on that level. My reaction was to the treatment of the music, which was mixed--yeah, I understand that there are real restrictions on what you can do in a movie as opposed to a stage show, but there are several points in which I think Burton actually marred (or mauled) the material by cutting too ruthlessly and refusing to cast real singers in virtually any role.

I might see it again, but I don't think it's worth going out of my way to study. I expect we're in agreement there.

Loved Juno.

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