Sheer Genius: Review for "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

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Sweeney Todd is the story of a barber (Johnny Depp, in his best role) seeking vengeance on the judge (Alan Rickman) who sent him to prison for 15 years on false charges. He gets help from his pie making landlord Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) and opens up his old barber shop again to slit throats. Mrs. Lovett takes the bodies and puts them into her “World Famous Meat Pies”. Contrary to Mrs. Lovett’s ditty, “The Worst Pies in London”, this is the best musical in years. Johnny Depp is excellent, and you can feel the tension in his voice. His voice is impressive, though not perfect. The rocky sound gives more emotion to the character. This man, who’s real name is Benjamin Barker, is a sad sap: his wife was stolen, he was sent to jail for something he didn’t do, the judge took his daughter from him, no wonder he looks like a corpse. Helena Bohnam Carter is wonderful as Mrs. Lovett. Her voice is wispy, but okay. Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen plays an Italian barber who is Sweeney’s rival. He plays him quite flamboyently. Burton is a genius: any filmmaker who can combine blood (enough of it) and emotional drama is a great artist. The scene in which Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly), Todd’s wife, goes to the ball at the judge’s house is very interesting. Everyone is dressed as a different animal, which can be interpreted as a carnalistic world where the real animals in us rule. The original history is very interesting: it was originally a serial tale by the name of The String of Pearls. In the 1960’s, Christopher G. Bond turned the simple story into a heartfelt tragedy. Then it was made into an awards winning Stephen Sondheim musical, which this is based on. Depp and Carter look as if they had recently been in Corpse Bride, though Depp’s make up really reminds me of Edward Scissorhands.This adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical of a madman is exquisite! The end packs and unexpected punch! The film is extremely dark, and (I will admit) has an excessive amount of blood. The musical performances are eloquent (“Johanna”), heart renching (“Not While I’m Around), hysterical (“By the Sea”, “A Little Priest”), and clever (“Epiphany”). Tim Burton thankfully doesn’t just add the music for music’s sake, but keeps Sondheim’s pulse pounding score and films the scenes to the music, rather than while the music is playing. Sondheim’s score brings the emotion to the film, where it was originally in the play. This film is a work of genius. This film is Bloody Brilliant!
Grade: A
For more on the real Todd, click here
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One thought on “Sheer Genius: Review for "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

    John said:
    October 19, 2008 at 1:52 am

    I agree. The movie was brilliant! A wonderful tale for the comman man. The tale of Sweeney is a catharsis when most of what is left for us to do is shrug the shoulders. I cheer Mr. Todd against my better instincts.

    Good to meet you Carl.

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