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Seen with glitzfrau and biascut at the Cottage Road cinema, Headingley.

See, I like opera. I really do. So I don't have a fundamental problem with the idea of characters in a drama expressing themselves through the medium of song. But the modern genre of the stage musical? I hate it. To my ear, the music is banal, and the lyrics usually are too. Doesn't matter how great the stories are, or the singers, or the production - fundamentally, I just don't like the music.

And then here's this film - with Johnny Depp! And Alan Rickman! And macabre Gothic darkness, Tim Burton-stylee! So what's a girl to do? She goes along to see it, hoping against hope that perhaps there won't be all that many songs. Or that maybe somehow this one'll be different, and someone will have written some decent music for it for once.

By half-way through, the main thing that was keeping me cheery was the fact that at least Alan Rickman's character didn't seem like he was going to sing. And then he started.

To be fair, there were some quite good sequences in it. Mr. Todd and Mrs. Lovett's duet about all the different types of people they were going to put into their pies did have quite witty lyrics. Sacha Baron Cohen's character was just ten thousand shades of ace. Mrs. Lovett's dream sequence was also super-groovy. Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman were deliciously evil and brooding, just as they should be. Well, except when they were singing, of course - 'cos it's kinda hard to really pull off evil and brooding while you're also singing even the most evil and brooding of Broadway musical numbers.1 And the young gentleman who played the noble and heroic love-interest was really rather pretty, and I hope a lot more young gentleman will seek to emulate his aesthetic from now on.

Also, there were all sorts of lovely nods to any number of icons from Gothic culture. Like Dave Vanian's hair. And old Hammer Dracula films. Including, astonishingly enough, the really quite pitiful The Scars of Dracula. It was quite distinct, though. Not just the general resemblence of Todd's daughter to its female heroine, Sarah, or the correspondence between Mrs. Lovett's cleaver and the one which Dracula's servant, Klove, uses to dismember his latest victim - and indeed the matter-of-fact way they both go about their work. Because those are things which come up elsewhere too, and needn't be anything to do with Scars. No, the specific Scars moment was when Sweeney Todd gazed lovingly at an old photograph of his lost wife and daughter, and then reached out to stroke their faces, smudging blood across the glass as he did so - just like Klove does with a picture of Sarah in Scars. It was unmistakeable. Good old Tim Burton.

ETA: Oh, and just realised this morning that I forgot to note - Alan Rickman's character had pictures of the initiation scene from the Villa of the Mysteries on the walls of his porn library! Always good to see a bit of Classical receptions about the place.

Heigh-ho - I guess my memories of the songs will fade (well, except for the Evil Brooding Song, of course, which I am still singing right now), and I'll be glad I saw the rest of it. And I couldn't not have gone. But once is enough.

1. Apply to one Dr. biascut for free sample thereof. The lyrics go like this:
"I'm eeevil, and I'm broooding,
With my evil, brooding song."


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 25th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)
I love musicals.
I was disappointed as a child that people don't really dance down the street singing a la Oliver! So I do it anyway. But then I am a bit bonkers ;)
Jan. 25th, 2008 09:01 am (UTC)
I must be tired. I read
or the correspondence between Mrs. Lovett's cleaver and the one which Dracula's servant, Klove, uses to dismember his latest victim.

as Mrs Lovett's cleavage

which then lead me to wonder how on *earth* do you dismember someone with a cleavage?

Pass the coffee, please?

We're off to see it tomorrow night. Depp! Rickman! Yum.
Jan. 25th, 2008 09:10 am (UTC)
You couldn't dismember someone with a cleavage, but I once saw someone very nearly suffocated with one. I had two friends, both Catholic: one was about 5'4" and male (and, incidentally, gay), the other about 6'2", female, and extremely well endowed. The following exchange took place between the two of them:

She: [enthusiastically] The peace of the Lord be with you! *hug*
He: Pmmmmmffff...
Jan. 25th, 2008 09:28 am (UTC)
yes, but he'd have died happy.

Jan. 25th, 2008 09:05 am (UTC)
I understand that its quite gorey, so not a film for kiddies.

By contrast the earler British version from 1936 with Tod Slaughter (which I have on DVD), couldn't show Sweeney slitting anyone's throat otherwise it would have been banned. Instead, the chair tipped the victims into the cellar where the fall knocked them out, then Sweeney would walk down the stairs brandishing his razor and going "Mwuhahah", with the implication being there of what he was going to do.

Same with the pies- it never says that the victims end up in the pies, but it implies it that much that the viewer is left in no doubt.
Jan. 25th, 2008 09:59 am (UTC)
Yes, they were definitely going for realism with the throat-slitting scenes - spurting blood, spasming victims, gurgling death-croaks, etc. glitzfrau had to hold biascut's hand quite a lot.

Subtle implications can be just as scary, though. In one of the Hammer Frankenstein films, Peter Cushing has to saw off the top of a victim's head to get at the brain. You don't see the sawing at all - just his arm going backwards and forwards accompanied by the rasping sound of the saw. But it is quite enough!
Jan. 25th, 2008 11:24 am (UTC)
I want to see it but am put off as I am afraid I'll be afraid. Or revulsed.
Jan. 25th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
It's not really scary as such, because the film very much draws your sympathies to the Johnny Depp character, so you don't particularly empathise with his victims - the main emotional impact lies in the empty despair that's making him do all this in the first place. Also, as referenced above, he's singing a Broadway musical number as he does it all, which does rather dispel the tension.

It is pretty gory, though, so you might well be repulsed. And there's a few places where you expect him to kill someone and he doesn't, or vice versa, so there's a bit of apprehension in there sometimes.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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