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Sweeny Todd: Blood on Celluloid

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

(Don’t worry about the banner above saying Christmas – the film company doesn’t seem to have thought about anywhere but USA)

Just been to see Sweeny Todd at FACT in Liverpool. One of my favourite musicals – we staged it on when I was at school. Almost spoilt by the couple who needed to get a room sat next to me till they clearly decided that they needed to get a room and left. I think that left the only two seats empty in the whole screen.

The film isn’t a slavish reproduction of the stage version but the changes all worked. Out went the chorus so there was no danger of the big, Fame! style, song and dance numbers. Instead we were treated to a selection of solos and duets all of which worked really well. It was obvious that some of the cast are not singers but all of them sang within their capabilities and carried their numbers well. I had heard Anthony Head was making an appearance but he was only in the crowd for a moment and didn’t sing. He’s listed as being in it on his web site but the IMDB only manages an (uncredited) (unconfirmed)

The sets and lighting were gorgeous and had a definite nod to the theatre without becoming overly distracting. The colour pallet used for the night scenes used a selection of blues. The blood was a very strong red and his being Sweeny Todd, not Mary Popins, there was a fair amount of blood used. In many of the scenes the use of lots of blood helped make the film less horrific and more comical. There was a fair smattering of bad language which I don’t remember from doing it at school.

It has an 18 Certificate over here and I’m not 100% sure why. I’ve seen 15s that I would say were more disturbing. I can see them at the certification board:

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – Bad language CHECK. Violence CHECK. Gratuitous Blood CHECK. Excessive Display of Helena Bonham Carter’s bosom CHECK. Cannibalism CHECK. The word Demon in the title CHECK. That’s seven checks so it’s an 18. Seven? I only count six. The bosom sir, it was extreemly gratuitous.

Hollywood Action Gore Fest III – Gratuitous violence CHECK. Guns CHECK. Bad Language CHECK. Body count in the 100s CHECK. No artistic merit CHECK. Sorry can’t let the last one count. So that’s only three checks. Only a fifteen then.

Overall I’ve got to say a good film worth seeing.

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