Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

sweeney todd the demon barber of fleet street poster 2007 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great job by actors with tough music

Love Burton but now his films are starting to look the same

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Sweeney Todd:  The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Studio:  Parkes/MacDonald Productions

Genre(s):  Musical/Horror

Release Date(s):  December 3, 2007

MPAA Rating:  R

sweeney todd the demon barber of fleet street johnny depp alan rickman

How close would you like it?

Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) is out for revenge. His life was stolen from him by an evil judge named Turpin (Alan Rickman) who took his young wife Lucy (Laura Michelle) and child from him while sending him away. Returning to London and adopting the name Sweeney Todd, Todd is setting up shop on Fleet Street above the shop of Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) who admittedly makes the worse pies in London. Todd learns that his daughter Johanna (Jayne Wisener) is still a prisoner of the judge and his assistant Beadle Bamford (Timothy Spall) and that the young sailor named Anthony Hope (Jamie Campbell Bower) he traveled with has fallen in love with her. Now determined to avenge his wife and save his daughter, Sweeney Todd is seeking the blood of Judge Turpin and Mrs. Lovett’s pies are about to get a new ingredient.

sweeney todd the demon barber of fleet street sacha baron cohen johnny depp

Back off, Borat!

Directed by Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a horror musical.  The film adapts the popular 1979 musical from Stephen Sondheim and Hugo Wheeler.  The movie was well received and nominated for numerous awards. The film won Best Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes with Depp winning Best Actor and Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton also seeing nominations. Sweeney Todd won an Academy Awards for Best Art Direction with nomination for Best Actor (Johnny Depp) and Best Costume Design.

Sweeney Todd has a long history. The character first popped up in an 1846 penny dreadful called The String of Pearls, but might be based on urban legends of the time since there is evidence that the character might predate the story. With multiple versions of the story Sondheim’s musical is one of the most popular ones. A number of directors have wanted to adopt this story, but Burton finally got the nod.

sweeney todd the demon barber of fleet street by the sea helena bonham carter johnny depp

Fortunately, they need no suntan lotion to repel the sun

Tim Burton has had a number of ups and downs over the years and I think this is one of his ups. His almost black and white style mixes great with the Hammer horror-esque style of bright red blood. In addition to the stark London, the few times where the film gets bright, work great with the contrast…A particular favorite of mine is the bleak and bleary Todd and Mrs. enjoying the beach.

Sweeney Todd’s music is also very tough on actors and actresses. All the players in this film do a great job. Depp, Carter, and Rickman are great in the lead roles, but Jayne Wisener and Jamie Campbell Bower don’t get to develop much as the young lovers. Like many of Burton’s films, Helena Bonham Carter feels perfect for Mrs. Lovett and both Carter and Depp command the scenes they are in…while working great off each other.  Even Sacha Baron Cohen gets in on the action as a rival barber Adolfo Pirelli and employee Toby Ragg (Ed Sanders) of who plays the young foil to Todd.

sweeney todd the demon barber of fleet street helena bonham carter mrs lovett pies

It takes lots of critters to make Mrs. Lovett’s fritters

I do have a bit of an issue with the end of the film which of course is a bloodbath (unusual for a musical). It isn’t that I have a problem with this, but it seems like there should be some light at the end of the tunnel involving Johanna and Anthony (who virtually disappear from the story) or some scene involving Toby as an adult or something. The movie starts dark and ends dark.

Sweeney Todd isn’t for everyone but if you are a fan of horror or musicals you might want to check it out  It might be too horrific for the casual viewer and too musical for the horror viewer, but it also might find that niche that both can enjoy.  It does have a very old feel and harkens back to an old style horror film. I think Burton picked another winner with this film, but sometimes I worry his style is getting old since you can go into a film knowing what to expect visually, when he used to be surprisingly stunning.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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