Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

1 May


Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Most films released in 2007 dealt with darker plots, such as “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood.” But those two weren’t musicals. Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is one of the best musicals to come around in a long time, and I’m pretty sure it’s the darkest (and bloodiest). “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” was originally a Broadway play, and for years I don’t think just any filmmaker would have dared to make a film adaptation until Tim Burton decided to give it a shot. If you know the story, or even if you don’t know the story, you’ll be amazed by this film of great direction, amazing sets, memorable characters, and a great story of revenge.

The story—Benjamin Barker (brilliantly played by Johnny Depp in his seventh Depp-Burton collaboration) is a barber living in London with his wife and baby daughter. But when the dastardly Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) notices his wife’s beauty, he ships him to Australia on false charges to be with her and adopts his daughter. Years later, Barker is a changed man. He’s released from prison and has come back to London to discover that his wife is dead and his daughter is locked up by the judge. He hears this news from Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), who is noted to make the “worst pies in London.” He changes his name to Sweeney Todd and reopens his barber shop right next to Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop. He vows revenge on Judge Turpin and is just waiting to slit his throat. In the meantime, he practices on unworthy throats…

Well, it is a musical. How’s the singing? Well, people may think that Johnny Depp sings in “Crybaby,” but some people forget that wasn’t his voice. We hear him sing throughout the whole movie, and it’s not exactly a big Broadway voice but he doesn’t need one. His acting is unique and now, so is his singing. And this movie never has more than five minutes of no singing. The songs are quite good and very memorable. Stephen Sondheim is the finest music maker, having to keep these songs alive for this movie. The music is amazing and intriguing.

There are also subplots involving a young sailor who falls in love with Sweeney’s daughter and may end up helping getting her back (without knowing who she really is), and a boy who is adopted by Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett that could cause trouble when Sweeney is acting strange, or even more so. And also, we know that Mrs. Lovett is absolutely in love with Sweeney while Sweeney couldn’t care less about she feels. To him, Mrs. Lovett is like a sister to him and she doesn’t understand that Sweeney’s only love is his wife. These are created so we don’t have to see a whole lot of blood throughout the whole movie’s running time, and they work effectively.

We also get a great comic moment from “Borat’s” Sacha Baron Cohen as an Italian rival barber who has a shaving contest with Sweeney. He’s hilarious here, and that’s great comic timing in such a film that has Sweeney slitting the throats of his customers and Mrs. Lovett cutting the remains up and cooking them into her meat pies. Suddenly, she doesn’t make the worst pies in London anymore.

Like most Burton movies, the movie looks so good while also looking quite eerie. Tim Burton has yet another unique style of filmmaking. He’s made London look so dark because this is a dark movie and the character’s faces look so gothic to blend in with the dark surroundings. Burton scores again here and this is most definitely his best film since “Ed Wood.” The acting is first rate. Johnny Depp is such a great actor who has all these memorable roles. He creates another memorable character for his career as the vengeance-seeking Sweeney Todd. And Alan Rickman is game enough to make a role his own. This is the best I’ve seen him act since 1988’s “Die Hard.” And also there’s Timothy Spall as the silly assistant to Rickman’s character Beadle, who’s also very good.

To sum it all up, with Stephen Sondheim’s spellbinding music, Tim Burton’s direction, Johnny Depp’s fantastic role, and a few scares here and there makes this one of the best musicals I’ve seen in a long time. And I guess the blood spurting out of the throats also makes this the bloodiest classic musical I’ve ever seen.

One Response to “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)”

  1. jennypugh May 3, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Such a brilliant film, it’s one of Johnny Depp’s finest 🙂

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