My apologies for the lateness of today’s post as, due to the holiday craziness, I had to go into work today. Anyways, today’s movie is one that I honestly wasn’t all that interested in seeing. Now, that may come as a surprise to most people because this seems like it would be right up my alley and normally you would be right. However, I am not really much of a fan of musicals in general and have to be in the right frame of mind to want to watch one. Still, I had several friends telling me that this was a good movie and I would enjoy it so I decided to go ahead and pick up a copy of it during the Blockbuster binge. Now let’s see if they were right as I watch today’s movie, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street.
The plot: In Victorian London, Sweeney Todd arrives in town, accompanied by a young sailor named Anthony Hope. Anthony is excited about being in London but Todd is more melancholy about it and warns Anthony that London can be a treacherous place; telling him a story about a man named Benjamin Barker, who had been falsely accused of a crime by a judge so that the judge could seduce Barker’s wife Lucy. The two soon part ways and Todd makes his way down Fleet Street to Mrs. Lovett’s meat pie shop, where he used to have his shop on the second floor. When Todd enters the shop, Mrs. Lovett gives him a meat pie, warning him that they are “the worst meat pies in London”, then has him follow her to get a drink to wash the taste out of his mouth. Todd asks about the shop up the stairs and Mrs. Lovett tells him that it is empty, as most people say it is haunted. She tells him that after Barker was exiled, Judge Turpin continuously came round the shop to try and woo Lucy but she refused him. One day, Turpin sent his henchman, Beadle Bamford, to bring Lucy to him, under the pretense of their being a mistake in Barker’s case and he might be set free. When Lucy arrives at Turpin’s house, she finds a party going on and is given a drink and Turpin proceeds to rape her as the other party-goers laugh. Hearing this, Todd gets enraged and Mrs. Lovett recognizes him as Barker. When Todd asks about Lucy, Mrs. Lovett says she drank arsenic and killed herself after the rape and that Barker’s daughter, Johanna, was adopted and raised by Turpin, prompting Todd to swear revenge on those that wronged him. Mrs. Lovett takes Todd upstairs to his old shop, which Todd hesitantly enters, and gives him his old straight razors, which she had hidden underneath the floorboards as she has long felt an unrequited love for Barker. Meanwhile, Anthony is wandering around London when he sees Johanna sitting at her window sill and becomes enamored with her. As he stares up at her, a homeless woman asks him for some change and he hands her some, then asks about the house and the woman inside. The woman quickly leaves as Turpin opens the door and invites Anthony inside, where he threatens Anthony and warns him to stay away from Johanna before having Bamford throw Anthony out of the house. The next day, Mrs. Lovett takes Todd to a market, where an Italian barber by the name of Adolfo Pirelli is selling hair tonic with the help of his assistant Tobias “Toby” Ragg. When Todd calls the tonic a fake and challenges Adolfo to a shaving contest, asking Bamford, who had been wandering the market, to serve as judge. Todd wins the contest and as he thanks Bamford, he invites him to his shop, offering a free shave when he visits. Meanwhile, Anthony continues to watch Johanna from the street and Johanna appears to return his interest, unaware that Turpin is watching Johanna from secret spy holes in the house. As Todd gets impatient for Bamford to show up, and makes his plans for Turpin, Anthony shows up and asks Todd for his help. Anthony explains that he has fallen for Johanna and wishes to save her from the man that keeps her and tells them that Johanna had dropped a key out her window so he can help her escape. Since he doesn’t know anybody in town except for Todd, he asks if he can bring Johanna here for a a few hours while he arranges transport out of the city, not knowing that Johanna is Todd’s daughter, and Todd says yes. After Anthony leaves, Todd and Mrs. Lovett see Adolfo and Toby approaching the shop and Mrs. Lovett heads down to head them off, then invites Toby to have a meat pie while Adolfo speaks with Todd. Inside Todd’s shop, Adolfo reveals that his name is really Davy Collins and he threatens to reveal to Bamford that Todd is really Barker, as Davy used to be Todd’s assistant when he was a boy. As Davy continues to threaten to blackmail Todd, Todd knocks him unconscious with a tea kettle, then hides the body in his trunk when Toby goes to check on him. After Toby leaves, Todd opens the trunk and as Davy starts to climb out, Todd quickly slits his throat with a razor. Meanwhile, Turpin has finished court and as he is walking home, he tells Bamford that he plans on marrying Johanna. Bamford congratulates him and after commenting on Turpin’s stubble, recommends he go see Todd for a shave. Meanwhile, Mrs. Lovett goes to check on Todd and is shocked to learn that he killed Adolfo but when she learns that he tried to blackmail Todd, she is ok with it. Todd wants to kill Toby as well but Mrs. Lovett convinces him to let Toby help her in the shop. Suddenly, Todd sees Turpin and Bamford approaching the shop and he has Mrs. Lovett quickly leave while he makes sure to hide any evidence of Davy’s murder before Turpin walks in. Turpin is not impressed with Todd’s shop but as Bamford recommended him, asks Todd to give him a shave, then tells Todd that he plans to marry his ward. Todd proceeds to shave Turpin but as he prepares to slit his throat, Anthony bursts in and tells Todd that Johanna has agreed to elope with him, not realizing Turpin was sitting there. Turpin angrily tells Anthony that he will never see Johanna again before telling Todd he will never enter his shop again. An enraged Todd yells at Anthony to get out of his shop, then rants to Mrs. Lovett about going on a killing spree when Mrs. Lovett asks what they should do about Gary’s body. Todd says they should wait until it is late and go bury the body but Mrs. Lovett suddenly thinks it is a waste of good meat and they decide to use the bodies as part of her pies. Back at Turpin’s home, Turpin confronts Johanna, who is packing a bag to elope with Anthony, and has Bamford send her away. Anthony sees Johanna being forced into a carriage and yells at Turpin to tell him where she is going before he chases off after it. Back at his shop, Todd fashions a swivel chair connected to a trap door, so that after he kills his victims, they can be dropped down into the basement, where Mrs. Lovett proceeds to place them in her meat furnace. With the influx of fresh meat, Mrs. Lovett’s shop begins to prosper but she is constantly throwing the homeless woman out, who has taken a serious interest in the shop. Sometime later, Mrs. Lovett takes Todd on a picnic and explains her wish to take him away to the seaside and get married but Todd is still focused on getting his revenge on Turpin. Meanwhile, Anthony has discovered Johanna has been placed in an insane asylum and goes to Todd to ask for his help in getting her out. Todd tells Anthony to pose as a wig-maker’s assistant in order to get access, as wigs are made from the hair shaved off the inmates, and Anthony happily leaves. Todd then writes a letter to Turpin, telling him that Johanna will be at his shop that night and asks Toby to deliver it to Turpin. Toby does so and when he returns, he voices his suspicions of Todd to Mrs. Lovett and promises to protect her. When he sees that Mrs. Lovett has Pirelli’s purse, he tells her they have to leave, as he believes Todd is dangerous, but she calms him down and says she won’t let anything happen to him. Mrs. Lovett then tells Toby that she will show him how to ake the meat pies and takes him down to the basement. Down there, she explains the smell away as coming from the sewers, then shows him how to use the oven and operate the grinder and leaves him down there before heading back upstairs. She tells Todd about Toby but before they can head downstairs, they are confronted by Bamford, who is there due to complaints about the smell coming from Mrs. Lovett’s chimney. Todd convinces Bamford to go upstairs with him to get cleaned up, unaware that the homeless woman is watching him. In the basement, Toby discovers the bodies and is shocked when Bamford’s corpse falls from the trap door so he hides as Todd and Mrs. Lovett enter the basement looking for him. Meanwhile, Anthony had used Todd’s idea and is able to free Johanna and they head back to the shop, with Johanna disguised as a sailor. Finding the shop empty, Anthony has Johanna wait there while he goes to get a coach and after he leaves, Johanna begins examining the Todd’s pictures and razors. When the homeless woman enters the shop, Johanna quickly hides in Todd’s chest to avoid being seen. Todd finds the woman in his shop and asks who she is and the woman asks if she knows him when Tod hears Turpin’s voice calling out to him from below. Todd quickly kills the woman and dumps her body down the trap door before Turpin enters. Todd then tells Turpin that Johanna has seen the error of her ways and will be there to go home with him. Todd then convinces Turpin to let him shave him and once he has Turpin in his chair, he reveals his identity to him before stabbing him repeatedly in the throat and sending him down the trap door. As Todd feels his task is finished, he hears the chest open and he sees the disguised Johanna staring at him. Todd grabs her and, not recognizing his daughter, is about to kill her when he hears Mrs. Lovett scream and he tells her to forget his face before heading downstairs. When he enters the basement, he goes to help Mrs. Lovett deal with the bodies but as she opens the bakehouse oven, the light from the fire falls onto the body of the homeless woman. Todd stares at her and realizes the homeless woman was Lucy, and Mrs. Lovett had lied about her being dead in order to keep Todd to herself. Todd pretends to forgive her and asks her to dance with him but as they dance, he throws her into the over and burns her alive. Todd then goes to Lucy’s body and cradles her as he weeps when Toby, who had been hiding in the sewers, emerges and quickly slits Todd’s throat before leaving, leaving Todd to bleed to death over Lucy’s body.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Full of pith and Grand Guignol grossness, this macabre musical is perfectly helmed and highly entertaining. Tim Burton masterfully stages the musical in a way that will make you think he has done this many times before.” Helena Bonham Carter was pregnant with her and Tim Burton’s second child while filming this and complained about how the size of her breasts noticeably changes during the movie, as the filming was done out of sequence. The movie was a box office success, earning $152.5 million off of a $50 million budget and garnered several awards, including an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, as well as a Best Actor nomination for Johnny Depp.
My friends were right, this was a good movie. The acting/singing was really good, with Johnny Depp (Todd), Helena Bonham Carter (Lovett), Alan Rickman (Turpin), and Jamie Campbell Bower (Anthony) all did a good job in both their roles and their singing. I really liked the story as it did a good job of explaining everyone’s character and motivations for their actions. The special effects regarding the blood and deaths were a little over the top but I felt like that was a good thing in keeping with the musical aspect of the movie. Meanwhile, the dark lighting, set designs, and costumes only made the contrast of the blood (and there was a lot of blood) that much sharper, which added more of an impact to the deaths themselves. I know musicals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and neither are horror movies, but this is a pretty good combination of both that is well worth watching.
Rating: 4 out of 5