Log in

No account? Create an account


Beware the Creeper!

Iain's life as a psychotic crimefighter

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

Stephen Sondheim on Burton's "Sweeney Todd"

the changes he had to make in translation from theatre to film

(for murasaki_1966)

(from Mark Evanier)

  • 1
*reads article* *runs screaming into the night*.

Even if Sondheim did the butchering, it's still murder.

I read this this morning and thought of you guys. I particularly like Sondheim's comment about musicals that become films and keep all the songs but have to lose some of the plot to do it.

The films the film and the plays the play.

As Terry Jones said when asked if the film 'Erik the Viking' would differ from the book - "Of course. Otherwise there's no point in making the film."

I rest my case. The best lines in "Eric the Viking" were on the promotional poster - "Rape, pillage and somereally lovely scenery"

Modern stage shows, when done to the same technical level as cinema, cost maybe 5 times as much to see and are at limited venues. Due to their limited access, their tropes are less known and more alienating.

Since I never have, and likely never will, see the stage-play, I doubt I'll lose much by seeing the movie version. I liked Chicago. What was your opinion of it?

Sad that theatre used to be the province of the people and now its tropes are considered "...less known and more alienating."

Of course, it's only had thousands of years on cinema, but still I didn't imagine that no vestigal memory of how to see theatre would remain...

(kind of reminds me of people who can't read comics, because they just don't know how to interpret the frame structure - yet they'll quite happily watch television, even though the comic strip structure predates television.)

And modern stage shows, even when not done to the same technical level as cinema (which seems to be important to you - form not content), can cost 5 times as much to access for an audience (e.g. "Gone Bush") Mass production brings down costs (but then, film and theatre are still meant to be different experiences.)

Sad that theatre used to be the province of the people and now its tropes are considered "...less known and more alienating."

I overstated my case. Musical stage productions have tropes that are unfamiliar to modern audiences, because of the very same issues of scale and mass production - which limit potential audience size - that you mention.

And while I agree that reducing the stage theatrical traditon to a niche element is sad, I can't see a better way of attracting people to it than by making (perhaps surgically altered*) versions for the larger audiences of cinema and screen.

I was tempted to see Chicago while I was in London (Tina Arena starred), which I wouldn't have been if I'd not seen the movie version first. (Sadly it didn't happen.)

*much as that may dismay purists.

I've been pondering the point you made and musicals are probably a bad example (vis a vis "Lion King", "Chicago", "Phantom of the Opera", etc, etc). Anyone who's seen a recent Disney animated film (I'd say from Little Mermaid/Beauty and the Beast onwards) is familiar with the tropes of musicals. Large scale shows like "The Lion King" sell out, even with tickets at $90+ - and I guarantee that the audience for "The Lion King" (for the most part) is not necessarily the audience for "theatre" in general.

I'm wondering (in terms of just throwing the idea out there) whether your basic every day "theatre" (i.e. non-musical play) is hard to perceive/interpret for an audience more used to television (although much of fictional television is inherently theatrical - esp. sitcoms. Applying more cinematic conventions to television shows is relatively new due to the lowered cost of digital camera/editing.) I wonder, as we derive more of our entertainment from screens, whether we find it harder to actually share a physical space with performers. Though stand up seems to be going strong, as does live music (when there are available venues.)

Maybe it's just that theatre sucks (or is too expensive, or both.)

I'm not sure about adaptations creating a demand for the original text - in my experience (and I think this is Llyn's main concern) they displace the original.

As ever darling, you know what I'm thinking.

The problem with bad adaptions is that they become people's idea of the book or play or musical. People, by and large, don't go and find a copy of the original soundtrack of the original musical (Chicago was a fairly faithful adaption), or read the book. So many kids I know think that The Little Mermaid has a happy ending.

Sweeney Todd is a masterpiece. Many people will see the film, and think that is all that there is to it. They will have a lesser experience.

Perhaps they'll have a lesser experience than the theatrical version. Many will be satisfied with this. But perhaps awareness of the theatrical version will be increased by the show, and some will seek it out. Those that don't, likely wouldn't have anyway.

I think that access and expense are insurmountable problems for theatre to overcome to regain its former place as a cultural icon. It also faces a problem that all entertainment forms are now facing: market saturation. There are only so many hours in a day, and a portion are needed for sleep, another for work, leaving a limit on the amount of entertainment people can consume. Perhaps a fragmenting market will help theatre survive as another of many options, rather than drown in a tidal wave of cinema and tv.

I prefer to think of it as prosthetic surgery.

awareness of the theatrical version will be increased by the show, and some will seek it out. Those that don't, likely wouldn't have anyway.

Have to agree with this. A film (even a bad film) increases the awareness of the source material. So, some will seek out the original.

Those wh think the film is "the version" and don't explore further are the same who wouldn't have heard of it or been interested in it otherwise.

Having said that, the version you see first is, often, the one you think is right.

  • 1