Anthony's Film Review
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Sweeney Todd is a dark but sweeping musical brought to life on film...
The 2007 movie Sweeney Todd is based on the Broadway musical of the same name. Given the darkness that surrounds its story, characters, and setting, Tim Burton is perhaps a natural choice to direct a cinematic adaptation of the musical. Think about what many of Burton's movies do. They feature a dark opening sequence during the opening credits, and Sweeney Todd is no exception with its imagery of blood and the gears of a grinding machine. Afterwards, the story begins in London underneath a cloudy overcast. The transition is practically seamless.
The title character, played by Johnny Depp, is a man who used to be named Benjamin Barker. He was imprisoned by Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), all because the judge fell in love with Barker's wife. Now out of prison, Todd vows revenge against the judge and also learns from a baker named Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) that Todd's wife poisoned herself and that his daughter is guarded by the judge. Following an encounter with barber Adolfo Pirelli (Sacha Baron Cohen), Todd sets up his own barber shop. His murder spree begins, but he cannot rest until he snatches Judge Turpin, the one victim Todd ultimately seeks. Other characters include Pirelli's child assistant Toby, a young man named Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower), and the judge's associate Beadle (Timothy Spall).
The story is told by both dramatization and song, but it's the latter that makes the story film unique. It's amazing to see actors who are equally skilled with spoken words and sung lyrics. The characters of Sweeney Todd are no exception. I also like how the music makes the story beautiful despite its focus on a killer. For example, Todd and Turpin are singing about pretty women just as Todd makes his first attempt on Turpin's life. Later, Todd is singing about his daughter Johanna, even while slashing the throats of men coming into his shop for a shave.
If you just want a good story, the movie still delivers one. It's interesting to learn who each of the characters are, their personal motives, and even how they're actually connected with one other. All of these elements create conflict, which is the essence of any good story. And if you're looking for the story to leave you satisfied by the end, you won't be disappointed. The last ten minutes deliver a surprise ending that will make you say, "Wow." Is it a happy or sad ending? You'll find out.
Sweeney Todd is another excellent directorial achievement by Tim Burton and another memorable work starring Johnny Depp. Honestly, I don't know if it would be any better if some other director and star were involved. The Burton-Depp partnership seems to work quite well. For fans of musicals, including those on film, it's a great treat because I certainly loved it. I had not seen the original on-stage musical, and after seeing this movie, I wish I had. That's OK. The most important thing is that I enjoyed the story and the music, even if a lot of blood is splattered.
For more information about Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, visit the Internet Movie Database.