Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

January 21st, 2008 by exolstice

sweeneytodd

Here is a musical that definitely isn’t for everyone. Based on the Broadway play of the same name, it tells the story of a London barber living a seemingly idyllic life with his beautiful wife and daughter. Unfortunately for him, a corrupt judge is vying for his wife’s affections, and he gets falsely convicted of a crime and sent to Australia. Upon his return to London, 15 years later, he changes his name to Sweeney Todd, re-opens his barber shop, and starts planning his revenge.

Of course, what starts off as a vendetta primarily against the Judge and his underling, quickly turns into a hatred for the whole of London. Sweeney Todd, who is now clearly demented, brutally kills nearly everyone who visits his barbershop, dumping their bodies down a chute to the meat pie shop on the first floor. And the murders are brutal, if you tend to falter at the sight of blood you should avoid this film, because the red stuff flows by the gallons. It’s amazing they were able to get an R rating with the sheer amount of blood spilled on camera.

In a way, it’s quite refreshing to see a movie like this that doesn’t pander to audiences by toning everything down. No, the film starts off dark and stays that way, the very nature of the story means that a happy ending could not be possible. There is some humor to be found, which I did enjoy, but it could be too morbid for some people’s tastes. Also, there aren’t many sympathetic characters in this film, save for one perhaps. Although Sweeney’s revenge may at first appear reasonable, he goes far beyond what would be considered acceptable.

The performances in the film are all equally excellent, I wouldn’t expect anything less from actors like Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman as the judge. Sacha Baron Cohen also appears in the film, in a wonderful turn as a rival Italian barber.

This is Tim Burton at his best, if you’ve enjoyed his past work, you should go see this movie.

****

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