Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is Tim Burton's brilliant stage to screen adaptation of the Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim.
The film starts on the high Seas as a ship and its crew are coming into Port. No, it's not Jack Sparrow, it's Benjamin Barker aka Sweeney Todd returning to London after serving prison time for a crime he was framed for. Johnny Depp sings his way back into to town and sets up shop with the help of Helena Bonham Carter who plays Mrs. Lovett, the haggard owner of a meat pie shop that makes the worst meat pies in London .
Behind the pale make-up and wild hair, Helena Bonham Carter creates a character that draws you in and completely captivates you. Johnny Depp is marvelous as as the bitter, vengeful and remorseless "Sweeney Todd".
He even manages to handle the musical challenges of singing the songs himself! Depp's duet with Alan Rickman is wonderful, so is the one with Carter where they decide to go into "business" together.
The supporting cast is excellent, and Sacha Baron Cohen does a remarkable job as Signor Adolfo Pirelli. Who knew Ali G could sing? Alan Rickman is particularly sinister and smarmy as Judge Turpin, the magistrate who frames Sweeney Todd in order to steal his beautiful wife. Timothy Spall plays Turpin's conniving henchman Beadle Bamford, and 14 year old newcomer Ed Sanders plays Toby, the waif that Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett bring into the fold to raise as their own.
Pulitzer prize-winning composer Stephen Sondheim provides the music along with Hugh Wheeler, and screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator and The Last Samurai) provides the screenplay. Sondheim's music and orchestration, adapted by Christopher Bond, sounds wonderful on the big screen. Another Sondheim musical masterpiece!
Production Designer Dante Ferreti creates a dreary London with a dark and claustophobic atmosphere that helps highten the tension . Whenever we're in Sweeney Todd's Barber shop, there is a feeling of dread and impending doom. The moody lighting and muted colors also help to sell this with great effect. In certain scenes, it almost feels as though the film was shot in black and white.
Sweeney Todd has his revenge on those who "done him wrong" by cutting their throats with a straight razor. Jack The Ripper has nothing on this guy. The first time Sweeney Todd takes a victim and we see the blood spurting from his throat, it's extremely graphic. Later when he devises a trap door beneath the barber chair to dump his victims, we see the bodies crash headfirst into the cement basement floor below. It's a little harsh, but it's okay, it's a musical!
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is an instant classic! Even if you've seen the play and already know the story, it's like you're seeing it for the first time. But be forewarned, Sweeney Todd is extremely dark and violent. You come away from the film both exhilarated by Tim Burton's visionary style, and a bit bruised from the violence.
Sweeney Todd is also a love story. Sweeney's daughter Johanna is a prisoner in Judge Turpin's mansion and falls in love with a young suitor who promises to rescue her. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a lot of things. It's a slasher film, it's a musical, it's a love story, and it works on all levels. Chalk up another triumph for the collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, their sixth film together.
I absolutely loved this film, but I probably wouldn't recommend it for a
"first date" movie.
For more information on "Sweeney Todd" got to the official website www.sweeneytoddmovie.com