Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street directed by Tim Burton
Starring – Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman
In Victorian England, legend speaks of barber Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) and his tragic love story: his beautiful wife and daughter taken from him by the manipulative Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman). 15 years later he returns to London under the guise of Sweeney Todd to have his revenge. Befriending widow Mrs Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), the two draft up a scheme and so Todd’s plan is put in motion.
This film is the perfect combination of all the key production elements in my opinion. This dark and twisted story is so well suited to Burton’s directing style and his choice of casting really brings out the key characters. Not his first musical production, Burton is brilliant at subverting the normal conventions and making something so much better, putting his own little spin on things.
With his dark sense of humour, Burton injects just the right level of dark comedy into this horror-come-musical to make it a brilliant piece of filmmaking. If you’re not a fan of musicals normally I’d urge you to give this one a chance. It’s Burton at his finest. It’s not over the top happy you expect from a musical – it’s not happy at all. The songs aren’t ones you’re expected to sing along to, they aren’t ones you’re supposed to enjoy, they move the narrative along and almost act to enhance the eeriness. With an 18 age rating it’s Burton at his most gory and most dark. Not only is it eerie but the film successfully maintains a high level of tension the entire way through, keeping you absolutely gripped and watching it intently right till the end.
With the draw of Burton naturally comes the additional casting draw of Bonham-Carter and Depp, a brilliant trio that are just so well suited to this narrative. Playing sinister characters that you love, empathise with and feel wary of all at the same time Depp and Bonham-Carter bring to life this well known tale and highlight its true gruesomeness both in the gore on screen and in the characters motives.
As expected, the Burton-esque style shrouds Sweeney Todd in a fantasy version of London; the lighting and colours are dark and bleak and the costumes are like an over the top version of reality. It looks and feels like a gothic story. The look of the film replicates the mood and feel but like I said, it’s not all misery and despair. In true Depp form he brings out the wackiness in the character and creates moments of comedy through his performance. However, in Sweeney Todd Depp’s character is unusually serious and sombre, Bonham-Carter steals the comedy more so with Mrs Lovett. Her eccentric costuming and clingy character create some hilarious situations in moments of bleakness.
This film is by far a firm favourite in my list (I really need to start writing some more negative reviews soon) and I’ve already seen it several times but I will happily watch it time and time again. My boyfriend who hates musicals absolutely loved this film and is a definite must if you love Depp or Burton. It’s gory, eerie and incredibly tense.