The infamous story of Benjamin Barker, AKA 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 that he approves of. See more »
At the start of the film, as Todd's ship arrives, a completed Tower Bridge is seen. Construction of Tower Bridge started in 1886 and it wasn't completed until 1894, at least 50 years after the film is set. 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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Tim Burton's most dramatically satisfying film so far.
I approached Sweeney Todd with trepidation, having been underwhelmed with most of Tim Burton's recent output and every screen musical of the last decade. The biggest problem I have with Burton's films is that his screenplays rarely manage to pull their disparate elements into a satisfying whole. Here, despite adapting the material to his own sensibilities and shortening the play by an hour, he adheres closely to Sondheim's book, resulting in the most dramatically satisfying film Burton has ever made.
I liked the adaptation of the off-off Broadway Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but have been left underwhelmed by all the recent big budget film musicals, so I'm glad to say that Sweeney Todd, wipes the floor with every major screen musical of the last decade, including the likable if over extended Hairspary. Most surprising is how shockingly gruesome the the film becomes in the second half. This must be the most blood drenched film since Shogun Assassin, with arteries spurting blood like like fountains as throats are cut, with the violence escalating towards the end leading towards a climax that is exhilarating, heartbreaking and satisfyingly bleak.
Unlike the dreary dirges Danny Elfman supplied for Burton's stop frame musicals, Sondheim's score is a joy to listen to from beginning to end, its dark romanticism sometimes reminding me of Bernhard Herrmann, perfectly fitting what is both a musical and a horror film in equal measures.
Depp and Bonham Carter are both excellent and it's down to their performances that I never quite lost sympathy with them in their descent into madness, blood lust and cannibalism.
Musical haters may not be converted as 75% percent of the dialogue is sung, but this completely dispatches any notion of cloying sentimentally the genre is often associated with.
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