The infamous story of Benjamin Barker, a.k.a. Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barber shop down in London which is the basis for a sinister partnership with his fellow tenant, Mrs. Lovett. Based on the hit Broadway musical.
In the Victorian London, the barber Benjamin Barker is married to the gorgeous Lucy and they have a lovely child, Johanna. The beauty of Lucy attracts the attention of the corrupt Judge Turpin, who falsely accuses the barber of a crime that he did not commit and abuses Lucy later after gaining custody of her. After fifteen years in exile, Benjamin returns to London under the new identity of Sweeney Todd, seeking revenge against Turpin. He meets the widow Mrs. Lovett who is the owner of a meat pie shop who tells him that Lucy swallowed arsenic many years ago, and Turpin assigned himself tutor of Johanna. He opens a barber shop above her store, initiating a crime rampage against those who made him suffer and lose his beloved family. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Composer Stephen Sondheim, notoriously protective of his stage works, long resisted offers to film this story. When Tim Burton expressed interest, however, Sondheim relented when pleased with Burton's vision for the project, and on the condition that the composer would maintain casting approval. Burton would only agree to direct, with Johnny Depp in the lead, and though Sondheim feared Depp's vocals would be too "rock oriented," the composer approved the actor after a vocal audition. To approve the casting of Helena Bonham Carter, and to combat any rumor of nepotism (as Carter and Burton were romantically involved), the actress sent Sondheim no less than twelve audition tapes of her singing. Very impressed with her vocals, Sondheim immediately approved the actress. Also, in his recent book about his career as a songwriter, "Finishing the Hat," Sondheim states this is the only adaptation of one of his works for the screen, for which he approves. See more »
In the "by the sea" song fantasy sequence at the beach, Mrs. Lovett is shown wearing sunglasses, which weren't invented for outdoor wear until 1929, and her bathing suit is more of the fashion worn at the end of the 19th century. Sweeney Todd is also wearing a late Victorian suit. The movie is set in 1846. One must remember, though, that this is Mrs. Lovett's fantasy. For all we know, she could've been the first person to conceive these fashions. See more »
I have sailed the world, beheld its wonders, from the Dardanelles to the mountains of Peru. But there's no place like London.
No, there's no place like London.
You are young. Life has been kind to you. You will learn.
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"At last, my arm is complete again." Sweeney Todd as he admires one of his efficient razors after a long absence.
I'm not sure Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd is "grand," but I'm confident it's in the best Grand Guignol tradition of sensational stage horror given its name from that little theater in early 20th century Paris that specialized in sensationally ghoulish productions. I am also sure that no one in film is better able to play the titular butcher than the shape-shifting, ever-naughty Johnny Depp.
The opening song "No Place Like London" hints to Anglophiles like me that it won't be my usual tour of West End theaters, rather a seedy, dangerous place where Mac the Knife would be more at home. Throughout the musical, Steven Sondheim's lyrics expressively revel in the amoral, throat-slicing world that Sweeney and his adoring meatpie lady, Nellie Lovett (Helena Bonham-Carter), wallow in as he prepares to take revenge on the equally amoral Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), who dispatched Todd to prison early on to get his beautiful young wife. Hence Sweeney's revenge inclination.
Sweeney's lyric best expresses the wildly murderous world, hardly the usual province of musicals: "Alright! You, Sir?/No one's in the chair come on, come on/Sweeney's waiting/I want you bleeders./You sir! Too sir?/Welcome to the grave./I will have vengeance./I will have salvation . . . ." Yes, it's Sleepy-Hollow, Corpse-Bride Tim Burton's movie with blood spouting like red paint from a pressure gun contrasting the somber, almost black and white underside of London. When one of the children bites into a pie with a finger in it (shades of our contemporary law suits!), the audience doesn't even gasp, given the omnipresence of bloody bodies.
There is no more interesting musical this year, even considering the enchanting Once. In the end, it is unsettling, unsavory, and unusual. Burton does better than anyone else in juxtaposing horror with innocence.
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