shall have vengence"
years ago, Benjamin Barker had everything, a successful Barber business
in Fleet Street, a beautiful wife and an adorable baby daughter but whenever
someone has everything they want someone else will want to take it. That
man was Judge Turin (Rickman), who controlled the law and could make anyone
disappear at his own bequest. Charging Benjamin with a crime he did not
commit, after fifteen years in prison he returns to London a changed man.
Driven by revenge after discovering his wife had taken her own life and
his daughter was now the ward of Judge Turin, he transforms himself into
Sweeney Todd, the best barber in all of London but motives become all the
more sinister when plan for retribution starts to play out with bloody consequences.
successful stage musicals into motion pictures has taken off at the box
office again but can 'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' get
a large slice of the financial pie or will it cut its own throat?
After the critical and financial success of musical adaptations such as
'Chicago', 'Rent', 'Hairspray' and the 'Phantom of the Opera', studios were
looking at Broadway and the West End in London for the next possible adaptation
that would turn into box office gold. No stranger to musicals after gaining
success with 'A Nightmare Before Christmas', 'Charlie and the Chocolate
Factory' and 'The Corpse Bride', Tim Burton was the obvious choice to bring
Stephen Sondheim's musical version of the 'Sweeney Todd' story to the silver
screen. His passion and uncompromising vision for the darker characters
that inhabit this world and the ones we can only imagine make him perfect
for this adaptation but while he creates a visual and artist spectacle it
is the songs from the original stage play that lets him down.
The success of any musical relies on the strength of the songs that tell
the story and set the tone of the film. With 'Sweeney Todd', you can instantly
tell that this is a stage musical with more operatic overtones than your
usual screen adaptation making this more 'Phantom' than 'Hairspray'. Characters
almost constantly sing with only brief moments of spoken dialogue, especially
for the first act of the movie. While this is all well and good, the cavalcade
of songs soon blends into one continuous, unrelenting tone with no real
standout song amongst them. Yes they have to be dark because of the subject
matter but it doesn't mean to say that you can't write a song that says
with long after watching the movie.
you'd expect from a Tim Burton movie, the visuals are astonishing. The dark
streets of 19th Century London and the even darker people who inhabit them
are vividly brought to life in an amalgamation of blacks and greys. The
film only adds a faint hint of colour during the flashback sequences showing
Benjamin Barker's happy life and when Mrs Lovett dreams of a better life
with her beloved Mr Todd. The dank, murky and gloomy world does have a spluttering
of red when Sweeney adopts his murderous ways as bucket loads of blood literary
cover the sets.
In casting the movie, Tim Burton has mixed new talent, with the best of
British and some old stalwarts. Jamie Campbell Bower and Jayne Wisener make
a real splash as Anthony Hope and Johanna. Both of them has stunning voices
and have a big future in musical theatre both on stage and in film. While
their romance takes back stage to Sweeney revenge, they still have a pivotal
role to play. Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Sacha Baron Cohen are excellent
as Sweeney nemeses Judge Turin, Beadle Bamford and Signor Adolfo Pirelli,
the men who drive him to murder. All of these British stars are on the top
of their games and really have fun with their songs. What Tim Burton fans
have been waiting to see however is how his usual players, Johnny Depp and
Helena Bonham Carter cope with the musical aspects of the movie. The good
news is that the pair grab the characters with both hands and make them
sing. They do this surprisingly well, which is good as the whole movie relies
on their performances as Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett.
Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' is a visually stunning and well
performed musical that is let down by the most important aspects of musical
theatre, the plot and the songs. With no real stand out songs and a very
simplistic plot of revenge, this is still Tim Burton's best movie since
'Sleepy Hollow' and one that his fans will revel in. Unfortunately, while
musical theatre fans will be clamour at the splendour, even they will struggle
to enjoy all of the songs. Not quite the cut above we were hoping for.
Presented in Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack,
the transfer is good, highlighting the visual flair of Tim Burton.
Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd (26.05 mins)
Director Tim Burton, producers Richard D. Zanuk and Walter F. Parkes, vocal
producer for Johnny Depp Bruce Witkin, music producer Mike Highan, composer
Stephen Sondheim and stars Johnny Depp, Helena Boham Carter, Alan Rickman,
Jamie Campbell Bower and Edward Sanders talk about creating the Tony award
winning play for the big screen. The director talks about making this first
musical, Helena and Johnny learning to singing and the rest of the cast
talk about their roles.
Sweeney Todd is Alive! The Real History of Demon Barber (20.06 mins)
Director Tim Burton is joined by history and literacy scholars to talk about
if the Sweeney Todd story was real or just a myth. They talk about the time,
the legend, cannibalism, Penny Dreadful, the stage play, films and the musical.
This fascinating featurette reveals the origin of the legend of the Demon
Barber story and debates if it actually happened.
Mayhem: Sondheim's Sweeney Todd (12.03 mins)
Music producer Mike Highan, producer Walter F. Parkes and composer Stephen
Sondheim talk about the history of the musical play. Taking a new approach
to the play by mixing gore with singing, this featurette talks about history
of the musical version of the play.
London (16.14 mins)
Crime and history scholars talk about what London would have been like in
the 17th or 18th century, the time in which Sweeney Todd could have been
alive. They talk about the under class of London, the under current of theft,
the impact of the River Thames, alcohol abuse, executions and Fleet Street.
Guignol: A Theatrical Tradition (19.13 mins)
Glamorgan University Theatre Professors Mel Gordon and Richard J. Hand talk
about the history of the Horror theatre, its Parisian origins and how it
set out to change melodrama.
for a Demon Barber (8.54 mins)
Costume designer Colleen Atwood, production designer Dante Ferretti and
set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo talk about the costume, the sets and
creating Fleet Street.
A Bloody Business (8.51 min)
Prosthetics expert Neal Scanlan reveals how they made Sweeney's victims
die. The blood splatter and creating the bodies for the slide are shown
in their most graphic and he reveals how to cut a neck for the camera.
Refrain (8.37 mins)
Images from the movie are edited together to music from the film.
View pre-production sketches, behind the scenes and publicity shots from
DVD treatment for 'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' is definitely
one that fans of the film will really enjoy. With featurettes cover all
aspects of the film and also the history of the story and the films, plays
and musicals that have based around, the only thing missing is a director's
A Nightmare Before Christmas
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