Attending the Tale of Sweeney Todd

David Thomson

in The Oxford Handbook of Sondheim Studies

Published in print June 2014 | ISBN: 9780195391374
Published online June 2014 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Attending the Tale of Sweeney Todd

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  • Musicology and Music History


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This chapter examines Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, a film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning musical thriller. In direct opposition to Sondheim’s opinion that this is the best, most filmic film version of a stage musical ever made it argues that Burton’s powerful deployment of the visual possibilities of cinemaalters the grand guignol of the stage musical with its direct address to the audience, to create a more attractive and conventional view of the two psychologically introspective protagonists who fail to evoke the grotesque and demonic force of their more convincingly melodramatic stage counterparts. By analysing Burton’s exploitation of the screen presence of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter, the chapteridentifies the contradictions resulting from the director’s attempt to position the film within the genre of such classic screen thrillers as Psycho.

Keywords: Tim Burton; Sweeney Todd; Film; Stephen Sondheim; Musical; Benjamin Barker; Johnny Depp; Voice; Psycho

Article.  5237 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Musicology and Music History

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