Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

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A Wonderful, Macabre Musical Masterpiece!

Jul 13, 2010 (Updated Jul 14, 2010)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

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Pros:Amazing adaptation, great acting, astounding imagery.

Cons:Too violent for some, hard to understand what they are saying at times.

The Bottom Line: This is a dark, funny, and intense musical adaptaion by Tim Burton. There are some wonderful performances, and great imagery. It is an interesting take on Sondheim's classic tale.


Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Introduction:  Tim Burton has found a perfect source of material to adapt, and it is the macabrely hilarious, yet heartbreakingly intense Steven Sondheim musical: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He did a wonderful job at transforming the stage musical into a dark, cinematic masterpiece.

He also did an amazing job at picking the perfect people to play the two lead roles (though it must not have been tough for him, since these are always his main male/female leads). Yes ladies and gentlemen, the excellent Johnny Depp & Helena Bonham Carter.

Storyline: Benjamin Barker was just an average barber, living on the streets of London with his beautiful life Lucy. The sinister Judge Turpin decided that he wanted to marry Lucy, so he arrested Benjamin and deported him from London for life.

A number of years later, Benjamin Barker returns with a new identity: Sweeney Todd. He is on a quest to find his wife, and on the way he meets the "Pie Shoppe" owner, Mrs. Lovett. She basically becomes his partner in crime, and he slowly loses his sanity.

He wants revenge. He must make those who are responsible for what happened to he and his wife pay. So he reopens his barber shop, and tries desperately to get Judge Turpin to come in for a shave.

Characters: Sweeney Todd/Benjamin Barker: He was a normal man at one time, but by the cruelty in the world, he was driven mad. He seeks vengence, his seeks his wife, he seeks the blissful happiness that he and his wife once shared. But deep down he knows that can't be possible.

Mrs. Lovett: She is the owner of the failing pie shop in London. She is madly in love with Sweeney, and she is the only one who knows about his dark past. They work together for the most part, and she has a hilariously dark personality.

Adolfo Pirelli: Though he doesn't have a huge role, he is vital to the story. He is a traveling, over-zealous barber who sells a "Miracle Elixir" for one penny. He totes around his young servant, Toby, and he notices something familiar about Sweeney.

Toby: Toby is a young child who loves Mrs. Lovett. He helps her in the shop, because she rescued him from Pirelli. He will do anything to protect her, and he is a very kind young boy. He starts to feel suspicious about Sweeney, and the tension starts building up.

Judge Turpin:
 He is a horribly perverse, corrupt judge who has a small posse who will obey his every wish. He is Benjamin Barker's arch-nemesis, and he is completely unaware of the fact that Benjamin is back...with a vengeance.

Also, his rulings are unfair not only to Sweeney, but to many people. He charged a young boy with the death sentence without even fully knowing whether or not he was guilty.

Anthony: He is the sailor who brought Sweeney back into London. He has a little side story of his own, about falling in love with a young woman named Johanna; who is Sweeney Todd's daughter. He is a very kind, romantic young gentleman. He is a sort of friend to Sweeney, and he occasionally will help him.

Johanna: Sweeney's daughter, who is being held captive by Judge Turpin. She is a sweet, innocent young girl, who holds the infamous "spot by the window" that every woman in a forced relationship bares. She wants more than anything to be with Anthony, and is unaware about anything about her father.

Acting: Johnny Depp does an excellent job playing the angry, destroyed, vengeful Sweeney. From his great English accent, to his affected eyes, to his entire image; he is a perfect, fresh potrayal of this classic character. He does a decent job at singing too.

Needless to say, Helena Bonham Carter is also wonderful. Many, including myself, find Mrs. Lovett to be the show-stealer. She is hilarious, dark, and oh so loveable.

Lastly, Sacha Baron-Cohen (yes, the man who is also Borat, Bruno, and Ali-G) has a small role as Adolfo Pirelli, but he is absolutely grand. His song is hilarious, and his character is so eccentric. He is a great addition to this oft-told tale.

Songs: The songs are all very catchy, and the lyrics are brilliant. That is, if you can understand what they are saying. It is sometimes difficult due to the speed of the song, the heavy accents, or the low volume. But it is not that hard to understand, and shouldn't let it take away from your viewing experience of this great film.

The best song in my opinion was "Epiphany" where Sweeney Todd realizes his terrible situation, and figures out he has to take actions into his own hands. He knows that just standing back is no longer an option.

Also, "A Little Priest" was a darkly hilarious song about a twist that comes on later in this film. It was also quite catchy.

Personal Thoughts: This is personally one of my favorite movies of all time. There is just something about this movie that excites me every time I see it. From the amazing acting & characters, to the catchy songs, to the beautifully dark imagery, this movie captures me and takes me away with it every single time I see it.

Bravo, Burton; Bravo.

Also, I know that many think that the violence is far over the top in this film, but it is so intentionally fake looking that it doesn't bother me. It is a nice touch in my opinion. It goes in direct contrast with the bleak, black and white world around it. It is symbolic in ways that I believe many don't understand.


Recommend this product? Yes


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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