Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Unjustly sent to prison, a man vows revenge, not only for that cruel punishment, but for the devastating consequences of what happened to his wife and daughter. When he returns to reopen his barber shop, he becomes Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, who "shaved the faces of gentlemen who never thereafter were heard of again." Sweeney's amorous accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, creates diabolical meat pies. Based on the hit Broadway musical, which tells the infamous story of Benjamin Barker, also known as Sweeney Todd.
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When most people hear "Sweeny Todd" they know very little: Some know it was a Broadway play/musical, and maybe they remember in the film "Jersey Girl", the little girl performed a gory scene from it at her school talent show. That about sums it up. It is safe to say that if Johnny Depp wasn't in this film and Tim Burton didn't make it, that nobody wouldn't have gone to see it. So just how did this macabre theatrical production scare up two Golden Globe Awards? (best musical/comedy, best actor musical comedy)
To start, the film was in typical Tim Burton fashion; striking to watch. Burton has perfected this type of cinematography that is dark and monochromatic. Beautiful, dramatic costumes and makeup add to the effect.
The story follows Benjamin Barker, a barber who was married to a beautiful wife named Lucy and father to a beautiful daughter named Johanna. They live a modest life in a flat on Fleet Street in London. Until, one day that is, Lucy catches the eye of Judge Turpin. He finds himself so smitten with her that decides to have Barker arrested and sent away to prison. While he is away, the judge tries to woo Lucy and steal her love from Benjamin, but to no avail.
Fast forward 15 years (and to where the movie begins) and you see a ship pulling into port with an aged and quite frankly, scary looking Benjamin Barker. He has been rescued by a sailor, Anthony Hope, and is heading back to the city he loathes; London. From this point, on he is known as Sweeny Todd, and says that Benjamin Barker is no longer alive. He befriends the sailor and tells him that he may call upon him sometime if he feels so inclined. After leaving the ship, Todd heads right back to where he used to call home, Fleet Street. Upon arrival he sees that there is a meat pie shop there and goes in and checks it out. He makes the acquaintance of Mrs. Lovett. Through this meeting he learns of his wife's tragic suicide, and that his daughter is now in the care of the very same man who sent him to his imprisonment.
Sweeny Todd decides that he will live in the same flat again and begin to take on customers as a Barber once again. Only this time, his plan is to lure in the Judge and kill him. Once his plan is foiled, he goes on a blood thirsty rampage slitting the throats of his customers with a razor blade trying to avenge the tragedy of his life. He and Mrs. Lovett decide that they will dispose of his victims into her meat pies, so no one catches on. No one that is, except for a beggar lady who seems to know what is happening in the shop by the unusual odor that pours out of it's chimneys every night. Everything seems to be going along just as planned, but when Todd has the chance to rescue his daughter, he and Anthony devise a plan that is almost fool proof.
To save you from being overly spoiled, from here on in, the plot begins to twist and turn and becomes even more tragic that when it had started.
Being a musical, there was quite a bit of, well, singing. Perhaps more actual dialog than singing would have driven the story better, but it is afterall, a musical. Unsuspecting movie-goers might be turned off for this alone. Especially when Mrs. Lovett sang. Her music is quite fast passed and confusing. Obviously, because of the type of character she is, but it is definitely irritating at times. The plot and storyline are strong, and while it was brutal and graphic film with all of the throat cutting, the singing kind of downplayed all of that and you actually felt so badly for the character that you didn't mind he was killing all of these innocent people. It was almost comical because of Todd's blaze attitude towards killing.
A fine adaption of a once little known play, "Sweeny Todd" succeeds in engaging the viewer in an engrossing tale with song, even if at the end of the day YOU want to FLICK the throats of the performers. B.
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