Hello everyone. Happy Friday. Today is the last Friday in October, the month has flown by. This Sunday is Halloween and my #bookofthemonth discussion all about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will be published, and that will be my last Halloween/horror/gothic themed discussion for a while. Content choices will become more varied again in November before we move into the festive month of December.
Today I am talking about Sweeney Todd, and I am referring to both the movie and the musical.
If you are familiar with the tale of Sweeney Todd, then it may sound surprising when someone who says they don’t love horror turns around and says they love Sweeney Todd.
I remember the first time I saw this movie. I was fifteen. My best friend loved it, and I remember hiding behind a cushion because I could not stand the sight of the blood.
Warning – There is a lot of blood.
Time passed. I did not watch the movie again, I had no desire to. Fast forward to 2018, and I am studying film theory in one of my college classes. I am studying German Expressionism and the impact it has had on the film noir genre and how it has inspired contemporary directors such as Tim Burton – If you are not familiar with what German Expressionism is, don’t worry. I will be talking about it in further detail on #theorythursday at some point in the future.
I love the class, I love the topic, I love Tim Burton, and I love Stephen Sondheim the composer – so I decided to watch Sweeney Todd.
I loved it. I still could not look at the blood, but luckily I knew when to hide my eyes, but I loved the story.
For those of you who don’t know, Sweeney Todd tells the tragic tale of Benjamin Barker who lost everything he loved because of a cruel and jealous corrupt judge. This injustice turned Benjamin Barker into a hardened man, and he is determined to get revenge on all of those who wronged him.
It is a horror story, and yet it is so complex that I would argue it is also a revenge tragedy. The story is dark, gritty, and gory, and it presents such layered themes about love, loss, corruption and revenge. The story explores class differences, and how those in power can abuse it. The story highlights what happens to the innocents who get caught in the middle. The story demonstrates what can happen when someone loses everything they love so unfairly, and it shows how truly dangerous someone who is desperate for revenge can become. The story is not all doom and gloom though, there are moments of hope and love in there too. I don’t want to discuss the plot or the characters too much because I will talk about the movie on a #moviemonday in the future.
I have not seen the musical live onstage, but I would love to because I adore the score, and I actually think that this piece would be incredible onstage. It would be dark, and gory, and a spectacle, but in the best way. This is one of those tales where I would say that the story goes beyond horror. This story makes a statement, and I think it is a piece that stays with you for a few days after you watch it. Stephen Sondheim is an impressively talented composer. The score is intricate, and fast, and yet there are some absolutely stunning emotional melodies that weave and wind through this story, so musically, I love this score without even seeing the movie or the musical. I would listen to the score of Sweeney Todd by itself because the score tells the story beautifully.
The score is the other factor that drove me to finally face my fear and watch this movie again, because I had been listening to the score, and I fell in love with it and then I was so fascinated by my film theory class that I decided I could watch the movie and just close my eyes during the gory parts. Doing this is what led to my revelation that I have been mentioning throughout the entire month of October, which is that I don’t hate horror, I just hate blood. Horror still is not, and will never be my favourite genre, and if you know me in real life then you know I am so jumpy, but there are aspects of horror that I do enjoy.
When it comes to Sweeney Todd, I love the story. I love the characters and how well fleshed out their backstories and motivations are. I love the very dark and complex themes that this story presents, and I adore the score.
This has been Friday’s Choice. I hope you enjoyed it. Happy Friday Everyone. I hope you all have a lovely weekend.