Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 9 January 2017

Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber

Making a great musical relies on a number of different aspects that need to be taken into consideration. One of the biggest aspects of making a spectacular musical is whether or not it connects and moves the audience; this means that the storyline and atmosphere both need to grab you and show you what makes the characters in the movie so special, and what they are really feeling when they sing their songs. Another important aspect is the acting; a musical needs to have a resemblance of acting and characters to the original production, otherwise the loyal musical enthusiasts will not go see the musical that they so loved once before.

Hair raising, Jaw dropping, and a new breed of horror, this Broadway to movie crossover Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber, is a dark; masterful story about love, lust, and greed. As you get farther and farther into the beginning credits you can feel the hair lift up off your arms as the music gets deeper and darker with the song (for the most part), rather dark and ambient most times, this is by no means a bad thing. The film opens after an impressive yet gory title sequence with an almost optimistic verse about the great capital of England. Tim Burton places us in a dark and gloomy London, England. However, this is interrupted by Sweeney Todd’s throaty growl in protestation of the city’s charms because Sweeney Todd’ s portrayal of London is very morbid and full of that dreadful day when his wife was taken from him. Burton does stray from his almost monotone color palette during the vibrant flashbacks to Benjamin Barker’s (Sweeney Todd’s) former life before incarceration on a false charge by Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman).

Todd’s desperate mission for vengeance against the judge who now, after raping his wife, has Todd’s daughter locked in his mansion, and later a mental home. This is not a “horror” movie per say; it is a motion picture adaptation of a stage musical. If you don’t want “horror” in the tradition sense (I.e. Texas Chainsaw, Nightmare on Elm Street) it is sure to be a movie that you will love. As the blood is not necessarily a “life like” color but rather a fire engine red, there is no need to be stomach sick on some of the more grotesque scenes. I myself hate tradition horror movies, but found that this one was rather amusing and enjoyable.

There is a lot of blood and death throughout the movie. Don’t see this movie if you are squeamish or terrified by the sight of blood. The next frames that take us deep into the heart of the city are reminiscent of Moulin Rouge, the style and overall look of this film are far removed from the great color and light of the comparative feature films. In true Burton style, the characters are larger than life; dark eyes, pale skin, and moth eaten clothing all give the overall appearance of the walking dead and the Grey-toned palette of the whole film adds to the dreary depiction of a starved London. Todd is joined by the somber and almost frightening Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) who, in exchange for room and board takes Todd’s victims for pie filling.

The movie does take a rather strange turn at the end and could possibly make you wonder: who is the real demon of Fleet Street? You may even feel some sadness for Sweeney Todd. A remarkable performance by Mr. Depp, again, as so deserving of an Academy Award nomination. Helena Bonham Carter did play a very quirky part and as a viewer you do, at one point feel that she is trying to be a mothering figure, but hence that is quickly dispelled viewers come to view that she is truly delusional. Her voice, however, did not hold strength to Mr. Depp. Several times when they were required to duet she did seem to be drowned out. This film is a good date movie, or movie with the girls or by your lonesome. If you don’t are not familiar with musical productions and don’t know what to expect, this would be a good place to start. In addition to branding Sweeney Todd with his signature look.

The cast is joined by humorous performances from Sacha Baron Cohen as the famous Signor Pirelli and a mildly irritating performance reminiscent of his Harry Potter character from Timothy Spall as Beadle Bamford. Although a great deal of fuss has been made about the blood and gore in this film, the reality is that the blood seems obviously fake and any audience member that has seen Saw or any other modern horror film will be left wanting. Few fans have stated that the fact that it was a musical has made them stay away from seeing the film. I feel, had the blood been more realistic and the murder scenes not been packed into one montage, it would have redeemed itself in the eyes of true horror fans. On a slightly more humorous note, for a film about a barber it is odd that we only see Johnny Depp shave two and half people.

In all, the movie was very good and I would recommend this to anybody whom I met. It is a need to see movie, with a lot of twists and turns, I believe that Tim Burton did a good deed in making the well known theatrical production into a movie. He did not ruin it either, but he did enhance it. I definitely will watch this movie for years to come and will call it in my own books a classic of the times. Please go see this movie or you will miss out, especially since Johnny Depp is in it. My best hope is that Tim Burton keeps making such wonderful films as he has done for years and years.

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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 9 January 2017

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