Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Director: Tim Burton
Director: Tim Burton
Shave and a haircut, slit slit. In the sixth collaboration of director Tim Burton with actor Johnny Depp, the duo reunite for the big screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd, which according to IMDb was based on nineteenth century legend. For those unfamiliar with the storyline, Todd chronicles the tragic tale of Benjamin Barker who, as the film begins is returning to Victorian era London to exact revenge on the evil judge who-- obsessed with Barker’s beautiful wife-- drove Barker out of London after attacking the wife and stealing the man’s daughter Johanna as his young ward. Forever changed by the actions of Judge Turpin (played by Alan Rickman), Barker now calling himself Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) reopens his barber shop above the meat pie maker’s store below where its widowed owner Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) “sells the worst pies in London.”
With Lovett’s help, Todd causes a spectacle in town catching the eye of Turpin’s evil right hand man Beadle (Timothy Spall) by ruining the reputation of a phony elixir selling barber Signor Adolfo Pirelli (Borat’s Sacha Baron Cohen) whose ill-treated orphan worker Tobias (Ed Sanders) is taken in by Lovett. Soon, the barber shop is used as a murderous front as the “barking mad” barber treats first Pirelli and then unsuspecting clients to a too-close-for-comfort shave and downstairs, eager to resurrect her failing business, the appreciative Lovett helps Todd hide his massacres by adding the mystery meat to her now world famous pies. Decidedly devious, this visually stunning film (photographed by Dariusz Wolski) will keep audiences mesmerized by the spectacular sound and breakneck editing of Chris Lebenzon that showcases the talents of director and star with source material that seems like the perfect fit.
As reported on IMDb, Sondheim had resisted attempts by filmmakers to relinquish his popular musical opera in the past but was impressed by Burton’s vision and also given the condition of having Helena Bonham Carter audition for him after she’d taken musical voice lessons in preparation. Recently named one of the top ten best cinematic works of the year from the National Board of Review and sure to garner placement on numerous critical lists and award nominations in the coming weeks, Sweeney Todd is a wickedly funny and shocking film that-- despite the excessive gore and disgusting plotline that may alienate traditional musical fans-- is the most jaw-droppingly impressive work made by Burton with Depp since 1994’s brilliant Ed Wood.