Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Bloody Musical

Set in an imaginative world that only Tim Burton and Johnny Depp could capture, Sweeney Todd has been hailed as a masterpiece by critics and audiences everywhere. Supported by a stellar cast including Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. Depp's "spellbinding" (NY Magazine) performance as Sweeney brilliantly elevates Burton's dark vision of a wronged man obsessed with revenge. Sweeney Todd is "mighty entertainment" (NY Post) that will win your heart with a vengeance.
Title: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Release: December 21, 2007
Genre: Musical/ Horror
MPAA Rating: R
Writer: Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Wheeler, Christopher Bond, & John Logan
Director: Tim Burton
Music By: Stephen Sondheim
Produced By: Richard D. Zanuck, John Logan, & Walter F. Parkes
Distributed By: DreamWorks & Warner Brothers
Run Time: 116 minutes
Official Site

The story of Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street has been around since Victorian times when it was first introduced in a penny dreadful serial and evolved over the years into a popular Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim, two films, and even a ballet. Using the Sondheim musical as his main inspiration, Tim Burton adapted it into a film starring his two favorite people: actor Johnny Depp, with whom he had worked with in five other films and Helena Bonham-Carter, the mother of his children.

Johnny Depp may not be his usual gorgeous self as Sweeney Todd but he certainly can sing! I’d go as far to say that he can sing almost better than he can act, and that’s really saying something since he is one of my favorite present-day actors. Surprisingly, he was given the part of Sweeney Todd without anyone (including him) knowing whether or not he could sing while Bonham-Carter had to audition many times before she was given the role of Mrs. Lovett. Actually, everyone in the movie sings at one point. From the odd but not bad-sounding, bad guys Sacha Baron Cohen (who plays Signor Adolfo Pirelli) and Alan Rickman (who plays the hated Judge Turpin) to the startlingly, beautiful voices of Jayne Wisener (Johanna) and Helena Bonham-Carter.

I thought the film was a bit odd at first but I quickly began to like it and even if there were some slow and gross parts I didn’t really care for, I knew all the bad reviews I had read simply had to be wrong because to me, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton don’t make bad movies… especially together! True, it’s a strange little movie because it’s most certainly a musical but it’s also a horror movie too. There is still humor, beauty, and with the younger actors- a bit of purity to it, but the movie is most definitely a Burton film and has his signature dark look and feel. Okay, I’ll also concede that it was maybe a bit too gruesome but I’m not sure how much is Burton and how much is trying to be a faithful adaptation of the stage version.

What I am sure about is Mrs. Lovett completely stole the show and one of the best characters I have ever seen Ms. Bonham-Carter play. Sweeney Todd was nominated for, and in some cases, won literally dozens of awards, everything the Oscars (one win, one nomination), the Saturn (two wins, six nominations), and 20 other major awards. This movie is rated R for a very good reason.

Links:, character (Wikipedia), movie (Wikipedia), musical (Wikipedia), ReelzChannel (behind the scenes, interview, clips, etc.), (interviews)





  1. Love the Youtubes! I haven't seen this one yet. :)

  2. I was surprised with all the negative reviews this movie got...I enjoyed it a lot. Sure, it was gruesome, but there was no other way to tell this story, really. I'm glad you enjoyed it too!

  3. I luv Johnny Depp. I thought this movie was great. I did see the older version of it as well, and I liked them both.
    I agree, Johnny Depp can sing. And I even with all the gore, there were some funny moments in there too.
    great review ;)

  4. I really enjoyed the movie too. It was rather gruesome at times, but it fit well with the story being told. It's not a movie (or musical) for just anyone, that's for sure.

  5. J. Kaye: They are great, aren't they? Better interviews and stuff are on ReelzChannel but I can't get it to embed right now. While the movie kind of threw me off my lunch the first time I saw it, the film is well worth seeing just to hear Depp sing!

    Nymeth: I think a good reason why it recieved such criticism was that it wasn't marketed as a musical at first but I think fans of the original musical didn't have a problem with it. I really did like it though!

    Naida: I luv Johnny Depp too. I haven't seen the older movies yet but I'm really hestitant to because I doubt anyone could top this cast :) Thanks!

    Wendy: You can say that again!

  6. I don't think the fact is was a musical was the problem, it was how it was marketed. And the gruesomeness of some of the scenes.

    The ads were all about the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp angle. Everyone just thought it was going to be another Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride.

    My wife's grandmother saw it because she loves Johnny Depp and loves musicals. Big mistake.

    I, however, liked it. Very original and interesting how this was pulled off. Great cast.

  7. Paxton: Poor grandma! There were parts that made me wince! I do agree that it was interesting and original though.

    However I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I had never even heard of Sweeney Todd before I watched it when there are so many adaptations (and I like Angela Lansbury too).

  8. This was one of the better films that I saw last year-gruesome,yes but oddly touching and tender at times.



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