Dec 13, 2007

Herrmann Vs. Brecht

In this brief interview clip about Sweeney Todd, Sondheim avows the undeniable influence of Bernard Herrmann, and strenuously disavows the influence of Brecht--by which, I think, he doesn't mean the show's aesthetics but its politics. He singles out one line from "A Little Priest" for some demything--as if that's the only line in the script or lyrics that supports a political reading of the show's revenge drama! Of course, one mark of a great and lasting work is the multiplicity of meanings it contains and allows, and it's probably true that Sondheim/Wheeler's worldview is closer to Webster than to Brecht. Still--I think the man protests too much. Judge for yourself. UPDATE: Ray Greene's mostly negative review of the Burton film for Box Office inflames a long discussion on the Brechtian credentials of the Christopher Bond play on which Sondheim and Wheeler based their musical. For my money, I'd love to see that particular "B" word not thrown around so indiscriminately. Still, with the release of Burton film, the debate is opening wide, so to speak.

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