Went to see "Sweeney Todd" last night with Doyce, and was very amused about ten minutes into the movie to see a couple sitting a few rows in front of us grab their stuff and walk out. How, in the world of the internet and television, is it possible to chose to see a movie at your local multiplex and NOT KNOW it's a musical? I mean, ok, sure, they might have walked out for a different reason, but I'm putting my money on the musical part. It was on about the third song, at which point one might safely assume that the singing heretofore is not just a little quirk of the film, but is to be throughout. I mean, I'm not expecting everyone to be fully aware of the history of the show, dating back to Sondheim's original 1979 production starring a fabulously evil Angela Landsbury as Mrs. Lovett,
or the most recent, widely lauded Broadway production with Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris
, where the action of the play was staged as if my inmates in an asylum, but to not know it's a musical? Crazy!!
Good movie, though. It is bloody, certainly, but it felt very much like fake blood to me, and I thought there were some really great parts. Mrs. Lovett's song about a holiday at the sea (I don't remember the exact name of the song) was laugh-out-loud funny. Even without knowing the musical, I groked onto the big surprise that is revealed in the final scene, and I had a true moment of fear for one of the characters.
Also, I enjoyed hearing the song "No One's Going to Harm You" in the movie, which I had heard before but out of context. What sounds like a beautiful little love song turns out to be something quite different. But that, I think, is one of the best parts about Sondheim. You can hear a song hundreds of times, but finally seeing it in the context of the show, it can be devastating. Years ago, I had a similar experience with "Into The Woods." I'd gotten a tape (that's how long ago -- not even a CD) of the Broadway soundtrack for Christmas, along with tickets to see the show. I listened to that tape practically every day until I got to see the performance, and I still bawled my eyes out during the show. I'd never picked up on what happened during a certain song, even though the line was quite clear, "It's because of you there's a giant in our midst and my wife is dead." Which I think means there's a special art to MAKING a soundtrack, as well: choosing which songs to include, and what dialogue.
Anyway, Sweeney Todd: good movie. Knowing that it's a musical: nice. Not knowing EXACTLY what's going to happen: even better.