Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd is the newest Johnny Depp movie to be released on DVD. It is the cinimatic version of the musical of the same name. Though the movie advertises itself as the on screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, the story is actually about 160 years old and has been playing in theaters for over a century. The story has no known author, though it is often attributed to Edward Lloyd or James Malcome Rymer, probably around the 1840's in Britian.

I first saw the musical Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Center Stage in Baltimore. Though Johnny Depp was not in it and it was not produced by Tim Burton, it was very dark and mysterious. It was one of the better plays that we saw over the 4-5 years that we had season tickets.

In the cinimatic debut, Tim Burton has done a good job of keeping the film dark. Most colors are filtered out leaving the film with blues and grays and the occasional red. Along with Johnny Depp, the movie stars Helena Bonham Carter, who's been in such hits as Mighty Aphrodite, Fight Club, Big Fish, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (another Burton remake), as Mrs. Lovett, Todd's lover and co-conspirator. Additionally, the movie stars Alan Rickman of Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter mystery nerd series, Timothy Spall (Enchanted & Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unforunatee Events), probably the ugliest actor around, and Sacha Baron Cohen, better known as Ali G and Borat.

The premise of the movie is that Todd's beautiful wife is stolen from him from the local judge when Todd is imprisoned on hyped up charges. Todd returns after his prison term and takes up the barber chair that he left years ago. However, he is set on extracting his revenge on unwitting visitors. His new lover, Mrs. Lovett, helps him hide his victims but butchering them and baking them into meat pies, which are the hit of the town.

Unknowingly, Todd's wife and son return to him. However, Sweeney Todd is going crazy killing everyone and does not notice who they are. Will he come to his senses before it is too late? Or will his vindication set him up for his own destruction?

I think Tim Burton did a great job with this movie. Johnny Depp, as usual, continues as a great actor and even gets to sing (it is a musical!). The movie is just under 2 hours long. I gave this movie 4 stars.

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