Review #589 of 365
Movie Review of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) [R] 117 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $14.25
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 22 December 2007
Time: 10:40 pm
DVD Release Date: 1 April 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official Website • Film's Trailer
Directed by: Tim Burton (Corpse Bride)
Screenplay by: John Logan (The Aviator) based on the musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler
Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) • Helena Bonham Carter (HP: Order of the Phoenix) • Alan Rickman (HP: Order of the Phoenix) • Timothy Spall (Enchanted) • Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) • Jamie Campbell Bower (The Dinner Party) • Laura Michelle Kelly (Marple: Nemesis) • Jayne Wisener (debut) • Ed Sanders (debut)
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Click to see photos from the Premiere of Sweeney Todd (2007)
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Note: Buttons from iTunes™ have been set to call up the songs for you to sample along the way should you be so inclined.
As Sweeney Todd returns to his former home on Fleet Street, his tragic history is revealed. The malevolent Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) found Todd's wife Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly) beautiful and deserving of better than a mere barber. He has the barber arrested and imprisoned for crimes he did not commit and makes Lucy the object of his lust. That is the last Sweeney Todd knew. His former land-lady who ran the shop below their apartment, Mrs. Lovett (Helen Bonham Carter), however, stands now all too eager to fill in the gaps of history. The Judge, she claims, drove Lucy to poison herself, and then he adopted their daughter, Johanna, taking her as his ward. Upon the judge taking away young Johanna, Mrs. Lovett had hidden away Todd's shaving blades under the floorboards for him in case he ever returned. Upon seeing them again for the first time, his old friends , he hatches a plan to exact his revenge while she sings her eternal yet unrequited love.
… as spectacular as it is sinister…
A dismal story of failed redemption, Sweeney Todd, represents the good and the bad as far as musicals-turned-movies go. While the songs are haunting at their best and needlessly repetitive at their worst, none is truly a standout despite the brilliance of the Sondheim legend, yet their combined effect is powerful—truly a grand example of the whole exceeding the sum of the parts. The leads carry their characters exquisitely well in and amongst the bloodshed that occurs and the musical numbers that ensue—sometimes, as they categorically do in musicals, quite out of the blue. What makes the film work through all this? Johnny Depp so beautifully conveys the tortured soul inside a man who had his life's rug unjustly pulled literally out from under him and the madness that consumes him and fuels his rage for revenge. Make no mistake this musical is a complete tragedy with no room for an uplifting ending or even suggestive final scene—Johanna could be dead for a lack of oxygen in that trunk for all we know (kept vague so as not to spoil it too much).
Depp…beautifully conveys the tortured soul…and the madness that…fuels his rage for revenge.
The dark ending to this dark escapade seals the fate of this musical qualifying it as a spectacular downer. There's no question as to the overall achievement of the filmmaking: the acting, directing, lighting, music, special effects, costumes, make-up are all universally of the highest skills around, it's just hard to leave with a sense of anything other than deep and lasting regret. Such is, however, the intent of pure tragedy. See Sweeney Todd knowing what you are getting into and enjoy it for its wondrous artistry. Go because you're a Depp fan and have a hard time believing the chap can really sing—he can and he's brilliant. Judge its success in translation—loss of an hour vs. the length of the musical—and reworking of some of the songs. Yet, understand this is not a film for the weak of stomach or heart and certainly not for children. Plan something uplifting for afterwards to take your mind off this eerie and sad depress fest.
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Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word review of this film]
Other Projects Featuring Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Johnny Depp • Helena Bonham Carter • Alan Rickman
Timothy Spall • Sacha Baron Cohen • Jamie Campbell Bower
Laura Michelle Kelly • Jayne Wisener • Ed Sanders
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