Warners made a boo-boo.

Photo c/o thisislondon.co.uk.

[Aside: I'm only partially motivated to put this photo here because it already matches my color scheme. Okay, maybe 60% motivated.]

See, Sweeney Todd, the alleged demon barber of Fleet Street, was purportedly hanged at the Old Bailey in 1802. The events of the story (and musical, and film) are based on his life, and can therefore not take place any later than 1802. The Clock Tower at Westminster (which houses the famous bell, Big Ben) did not begin construction until after the old Palace was destroyed in 1834, and was not completed until 1858. Therefore, this promotional photograph purporting to show Johnny Depp as a non-cadaverous Sweeney Todd with the Clock Tower at Westminster visible through the window behind him, is highly anachronistic.

I don't mind cinematic anachronism if it has a purpose, and in this case, I think it has a decent purpose - people associate that building with London, and it helps set the scene. How else would one indicate in the above photograph that the story takes place in London? It seems perfectly reasonable to me, so I really do not mind the anachronism. It is a movie after all - everything you see is fake, anyway.

But apparently Warners decided to pull the photo and replace it with one that doesn't feature the famous landmark, after some sharp-eyed Britons pointed out the misplaced tower. I wonder if digital effects artists are frantically scrubbing back through the film, painstakingly erasing any images of the tower that might have made their way in.

The whole situation reminds me a little of this Spider-Man teaser trailer, released just before 11 September, 2001, and pulled from screens immediately thereafter.


Tom G Varik