Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007) movie posterBuckets of gore, Tim Burton’s finely-honed Gothic sensibilities and oceans of moody brooding by Johnny Depp make a perfect movie interpretation of the story.

Now unfortunately I don’t like Stephen Sondheim’s music much. It grates on my ear, though I think the fact that I’d seen the stage show and therefore had already heard the soundtrack before really helped.

It’s shot brilliantly. It’s a very natural fit for the screen (unlike some recent musicals adaptations, like The Producers, which feels stagey). It’s well-acted. The songs are well-integrated. It’s suitably stomach-churning.

The opening credits sequence was the only weak point for me. It is uninspired, poorly executed and not a patch on the exciting visuals in the film proper. And they could have have played something a bit more upbeat over the end credits—Attend The Tale of Sweeney Todd, say—because the ending is rather sudden and quiet.

My musical-loving friends reckoned that Helena Bonham Carter’s singing wasn’t as strong as the others’ (though, frankly, if Stephen Sondheim was ‘very impressed’ by her singing, she can’t have been that bad). I must say I’d always imagined a more rotund Mrs Lovett, but Bonham Carter does play the role very well. Also the camera spends a lot of time staring down from above, lovingly into her bosoms.

Fine performances all round. The London accents are quite acceptable. And did I mention the rivers of blood? It’s like Oliver! meets Silence of The Lambs. The camera dwells on each violent act, including the increasingly unpleasant dispatches towards the end.

Does it sound like your kind of thing? You’ll really enjoy it then.

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