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Sweeney Todd

Tim Burton's 2007 film adaptation of the musical starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.

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A Musical Transferred

  • Apr 3, 2008
  • by
"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

A Musical Transferred

Amos Lassen

I have always loved the story of Sweeney Todd. I guess I have seen the stage production of Sondheim's musical two dozen times including a Hebrew production when I lived in Israel. I anxiously awaited the film version and the DVD release and my only disappointment is that several wonderful songs have been cut. The movie, however, is gloriously wonderful.
For those unfamiliar with the plot, here is a brief summary. After being sent away by Judge Turpin, Sweeney Todd a.k.a. Benjamin Barker returns to London with the help of a sailor, Anthony Hope. He opens a barber shop above Mrs. Lovett's Meat Pie Shop where she, admittedly, sells "the worst pies in London". With Mrs. Lovett's help, Todd has the goal to rid London of its corrupt aristocracy and to be reunited with his daughter, Joanna, who has become the ward of Turpin. He goes on a murderous rampage after he lures his victims to his shop (with a winning smile) and ends their lives with a flick of the razor across the neck. His lust for revenge costs the death of many Londoners.
The plot sounds grim and it is but in the film the gore (and there is plenty of it) is tastefully delivered. We have a British satire with slapstick and "bloody" humor. Here is dark humor at its darkest and best. It is an adventure that must be seen and no matter what I or others say can really explain the horrible beauty of the film.
Tim Burton has always been admired as a director that does not bend to the tastes of others. He is not only a director but an auteur and stunning visuals have been his trademark. He does not disappoint with "Sweeney". He has beautifully managed to wed music and horror and it works wonderfully.
Turpin is the personification of evil. He arrested and exiled Todd for a crime he did not commit and when Todd returns to London he compliments Turpin's evil. Filmed in dark colors that suit the story, the atmosphere of evil is present from the first frame of film. As dark as London appears, it is not as dark as the people who live there and Sweeney Todd is the darkest of them all. Johnny Depp wears the role as if he had been born to do so. He just does not play Todd, he is Sweeney Todd. He portrays Todd as a man torn apart by vengeance and man that can only answer the call of death. His subtlety in his portrayal is one of the finest performances ever seen on the screen. The rest of the cast is just as good. Helen Bonham Carter had big shoes to fill after Mrs. Lovett had been played by two wonderful actresses, Angela Lansbury and Patti LuPone. Sasha Baron Cohen as Pirelli is also excellent.
I bought the deluxe two disc special edition and the extras are every bit as good as the feature. There is a behind the scenes look and a feature on "The Real History of the Demon Barber", a look at Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" and a featurette on "Sweeney's London". There are also featurettes on the tradition of "grand guignol", on the design of the film and an unscripted interview with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.

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More Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber... reviews
review by . January 04, 2013
Can You Tell This Is A Tim Burton Film?
This movie, like all Tim Burton movies, screams TIM BURTON. That being said, it's an enjoyable musical adaptation. Of course, "Johanna" is the stand-out musical number, being hauntingly and achingly sad. Sacha Baron Cohen is memorable and Helena Bonham Carter is quite bearable (to be fair, much of my ire towards her comes from her being Burton's wife). There are some striking visual shots (as expected) and lavishly grotesque scenes which make the lack of character depth and plot …
review by . May 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****    Tim Burton gives me all that I look for in a musical feature film with "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street", an adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim hit Broadway show of the same name. If you've followed up on the filmmaker's works to this day, then you'll know that he's usually not afraid to go to dark places, but I don't think he's ever purposely corned himself in a dark alley and proceeded to inflict severe and perverse emotionally deconstructive …
review by . December 12, 2010
In all fairness this is probably the worst version of Sweeney Todd out there, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. I actually do like this movie, but it seems that the only reason Tim Burton decided to adapt it is that it's a dark musical and he has already laid claim to anything with even an iota of macabre. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love that, but it just makes me think that he amped up the blood and guts and downplayed the original beloved characters whereas the …
review by . May 02, 2011
I decided to rewatch this movie and after doing so, I have deduced that I was being unfair, comparing this to the stage show. Of course the stage show is brilliant, but this is a splendid work in its own right and arguably the best thing Tim Burton has done since Beetlejuice. There are some things that this movie does better than the show, and some things that the show does better than the movie, but I shall get on about that later in the review. This musical is my favourite musical of all time, …
Quick Tip by . September 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Strong performances all around in both singing and acting. Even though I thought Bonham-Carter was a bit too young to play Mrs. Lovett when the cast was announced, she pulled off this role wonderfully. Depp totally got into this role as he usually does. Like he does all of his roles, he played Sweeny Todd as a three dimensional character, who did horrible things, yet you could feel sympathetic to what he went through.
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
this movie was weird to say the least. when i first heard that it was a musical i was totally uninterested, but then when i saw it i was pleasantly suprised, it was really good!
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Depp shows his wide range of talents. He shows that he can both act and sing in this movie. Burton's direction is also at its best.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A quite amazing musical/drama revenge movie. It had great potentilal and rose to the challenge. A fantastic cast.
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
very......interesting, and strange movie. for a musical not that bad though.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Loved this movie! I went and bought the original afterwards and I must say, they did a great job with this movie! It is entertaining and the effects are amazing!
About the reviewer
Amos Lassen ()
Ranked #208
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities.   I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … more
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About this movie


2007 musical thriller and the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's stage musical starring Johnny Depp

Starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman
Directed by Tim Burton
Writers: John Logan, Steven Sondheim (Musicals)

After years of rumors, it turns out that Tim Burton was the perfect visionary to filmSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Stephen Sondheim's Broadway masterpiece, and the result is a macabre and moving musical movie as enthralling as anything Burton has ever done. The show's mix of gothic horror, Grand Guignol,verydark humor, and witty and beautiful music never was the stuff of traditional musical comedy, but it's a powerful work, and perhaps the richest of the late 20th century. In the movie, Burton's frequent collaborator, Johnny Depp, plays Todd, a wronged man whose lust for revenge drives him to murder (an 19th-century legend who has been traced to a real-life barber). Helena Bonham Carter, another Burton mainstay, is Mrs. Lovett, the barber's partner-in-unspeakable-crime. It's no surprise that Depp is an excellent choice to convey Todd's brooding intensity and volcanic rage, but he can also sing a score that is so challenging it has often played in opera houses (though not with the same style as the Broadway original, Len Cariou, and he occasionally lapses into pop style). Bonham Carter is small of voice and lacks the humor of the original Broadway Lovett, Angela Lansbury, but ...
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Director: Tim Burton
Genre: Music, Musical
Release Date: December 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: April 1, 2008
Runtime: 1hr 56min (116 Minutes)
Studio: Dreamworks PIctures, Warner Bros Pictures
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