116 Min. | Drama – Horror – Musical | December 2007
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Tim Burton
Staring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Review: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is an old story that is not based on a real 19th century murderer-despite some recent rumors that this legend is true. Though the original story has changed a bit over the years, the basic elements remain. A man is wrongly convicted and returns years later to exact revenge-slicing the throats of the wicked (and sometimes innocent) and then having the bodies disposed of in meat pies sold to the unsuspecting public. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is based on the Sondheim musical. Over the years, there have been other non-musical versions of the fabled story of Sweeney Todd, but Stephen Sondheim has truly popularized this grisly tale of revenge and madness. However, if you are used to the Rogers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe style of musicals, be prepared for a wildly different sort of musical. This isn’t just because of the very, very dark subject matter but also the style of singing.
Unlike these other famous musical teams, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street does not offer songs that you will quickly find yourself humming or will hear on an elevator. This style singing does take some getting used to, though Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street adaptation of the musical is much more approachable to the casual viewer. That’s because in the play, many of the songs are sung in a crazy and cacophonous manner-with many singers across the stage singing different parts that generally don’t harmonize well with each other. This strange and sometimes painful style was done to emphasize Sweeney’s madness. Instead, the music was sung by either individuals or in duets (which were also often sung very separately but with much less cacophony than an entire chorus). Now as for the aesthetics of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. As you probably would expect, director Burton did his usual marvelous job. The dankness and awfulness of a Dickensian England is vivid and convincing. The plethora of roaches and rats also heightened this awful realism as did the terrible dental work of the actors.
Unlike many films set in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street era that featured actors with lovely capped teeth, the actors here abounded with crooked teeth. What particularly liked about Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and what really jumped out was the cinematography, how almost everything was done in sepia and gray tones. There were a few exceptions but these were wonderful and were designed as the occasional and shocking contrast (such as the blueness of Pirelli’s clothes or the intensity of the blood). Additionally, the fantasy sequence was extremely colorful and this made it one of the most striking and funny scenes in the film-quite appropriate to the mood. So overall, apart from the intensity of the violence, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was a great film and a nice improvement over the Sondheim stage production due to its wickedly dark humor and style.