My first experience with Sweeney Todd left a bad taste in my mouth. It was during Theater Production class my freshman year of high school and our teacher showed the class the 1982 film version starring Angela Lansbury and George Hearn. I was repulsed by the story and swore off the Tim Burton version for years. Until yesterday. I MADE A COLOSSAL MISTAKE.
If you have no clue what Sweeney Todd is about, here’s a quick snippet for ya: A man named Benjamin Barker has just been released from prison after spending fifteen years serving for a false charge. He comes out a different man, who has given himself the name Sweeney Todd. He meets Mrs. Lovett, the baker of the worst pies in London. Sweeney Todd is full of anger, and after learning of his wife’s death and daughter’s adoption from the man who put him in the slammer in the first place, he and Mrs. Lovett create a murderous joint business venture. Blood is shed and soon Mrs. Lovett is baking the best pies in London.
Johnny Depp is marvelous as the demon barber. He captures the anguish, anger, and violence of the character, and has a beautiful singing voice (Did I forget to mention this is a musical originally produced by Stephen Sondheim?). Helena Bonham Carter is on form as the kooky, lovestruck Mrs. Lovett, while Alan Rickman is stern and regal as Judge Turpin. The supporting actors add extra spice to the mix. It’s a thrill seeing (and hearing) Sacha Baron Cohen, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Timothy Spall join the bloody mix.
The musical numbers are fantasic. There’s not a dull note in the entire film, and Tim Burton should be applauded for this feat. I still can’t get “Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir” out of my head…
The style of the film is dark, Gothic, and gorgeous. This film is literally and figuratively dark, with only the occasional ray of sunshine or river of claret providing color to the grey, dull world. I was taken by the beauty and contrast of the movie, and the costumes were on point, as they always are in a Tim Burton production (Colleen Atwood is a genius with clothing).
This film is extremely gory and violent, which may turn some viewers off. Throats are slashed, with liberal streams of blood saturating the screen. Meat pies are made, and you don’t want to know what they consist of…
Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd is a lush, dark Gothic musical full of amazing musical performances, solid acting, and gorgeous cinematography. The gore and violence may turn off some, but for viewers in need of a musical that’s different from your usual fare, Sweeney Todd may be the treat you never knew you were craving.
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