Sweeney Todd

2007 turned out to be a fantastic year for movies. Eastern Promises, No Country for Old Men and more recently Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street swept the silver screen.

During Oscar season especially, every new release has such high expectations, and not all films make the grade. Sweeney Todd was one of these highly anticipated films, and unlike many of the other new films this one certainly passed the expectations for most of us.

It is a story of tragedy, deception, revenge and meat pies based on the Broadway musical written by Stephen Sondheim.

As the story goes, Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) was a man who had a perfect life; he had a beautiful wife and daughter and a respectable job as a barber, but he was one day wronged by a few very foul subjects. After returning to his home in London after fifteen long years in prison, the now Sweeney Todd is looking to get revenge…no matter what the stakes.

Ms. Lovett, as played by Helena Bonham Carter, is Todd’s partner in crime throughout the plot. She befriends him from the start and supports him in his significantly sinister plan of rabid revenge.

The people of London, and of Fleet Street in particular, play more of a role in the duo’s devious plan than they might soon realize. The people of this Fleet Street are not always as they appear.

The film turned out to be acutely captivating from beginning to end, and to my surprise the musical side of things was not at all hokey. The music added so much to the story, and I applaud the actors for taking on such difficult and versatile characters. Tim Burton created what will likely be in the running for best film of 2007—a musical, a thriller, a romance and a chiller all in one.

The acting in the movie was phenomenal; Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman all gave exceptional performances. Their Broadway worthy talent was just as surprising as it was enchanting. All actors involved in the film are quite talented, which made the film extremely entertaining and engrossing. The direction of Sweeney Todd is very signature of Tim Burton’s style. The dull colors, the pale skin, the drab clothing, the feeling of lurking death around every corner—he makes it work. Even the gray skies of London were fitting for his style.

Sweeney Todd is also excellent in the music department. Musicals are usually thrown into the category of upbeat, lively films with dramatic characters and a happily-ever-after plot. This wasn’t quite the case with Sweeney Todd.

Most of the music in this film is quite sullen and dreary. There is the occasional upbeat ditty, but even then there are sad undertones in the music that return the mood to its dark focus. The musical aspect not only adds to the film’s aesthetic appeal, it also acts as a movement that carries the story along a steady crescendo all the way to its peak.

I would highly recommend this film whether you are a cutthroat kind of guy or just someone who likes to look at Johnny Depp—it has something to offer all of us. But be weary, because the Demon Barber of Fleet Street has a few sharp tricks up his sleeve. Make sure you come into the theater clean-shaven, because Todd promises “the closest shave you’ve ever had,” and if you’re not careful you might just find yourself on the cutting edge of your seat.