Saturday, January 26, 2008

High Fidelity to Sweeney Todd

Weekend break from serious economics to popular culture. The flagship BBC "movie" programme Film 2008 was repeated this afternoon. Much of the show focused on this week's big release, a dark musical epic about Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

The film review is for other times or other blogs, today I just comment on something unusual about the promotional activity on the show. Quite rightly, the focus was on the director - whatever the source material, he imprints his own personal inimitable style upon the creation. And wherever he pushes his visions, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are often not far away, so they were interviewed too. Generally actors need to be paid well to say loyal to their directors, but you feel that those two would do almost anything for Tim Burton.

But what surprised me is that they only mentioned in passing the character playing Adolfo Pirelli. I just caught that it was someone called Sacha Baron-Cohen, then I realised that he is the guy responsible for Ali G and Borat. Given his fame and profile, I would have thought that his participation would be a big story. It was not, and I hope that the reason for that is a perfectly justified focus on the main creative talent rather than the local star.

Yet I wonder if the omission was deliberate. Perhaps Sacha did not want to get involved with the promotion, perhaps he only feels comfortable in public while "in character", though I am fairly sure his name remains in the picture. But it could be something else. You sometimes hear of actors being "uncredited" in roles, but usually that is where the finished movie is a disastrous mess and the actor wants nothing to do with the fiasco. But for films that are both critically acclaimed and also financially successful, you wonder why they disown the work in those circumstances.

The example that still puzzles me is that of Catherine Zeta Jones. High Fidelity is one of my favourite books, and she was typically stunning in the film adaptation. But she was completely uncredited in it. Why?

No comments: