Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Drama, Horror, Musical, Thriller
Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall
The infamous story of Benjamin Barker, a.k.a Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barber shop down in London which is the basis for a sinister partnership with his fellow tenant, Mrs. Lovett. Based on the hit Broadway musical.
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.
  • DreamWorks/Paramount Studios Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 21 Dec 2007 Released:
  • 01 Apr 2008 DVD Release:
  • $52.8M Box office:

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Trailer:

Tim Burton's most dramatically satisfying film so far.9/10
I approached Sweeney Todd with trepidation, having been underwhelmed with most of Tim Burton's recent output and every screen musical of the last decade. The biggest problem I have with Burton's films is that his screenplays rarely manage to pull their disparate elements into a satisfying whole. Here, despite adapting the material to his own sensibilities and shortening the play by an hour, he adheres closely to Sondheim's book, resulting in the most dramatically satisfying film Burton has ever made.

I liked the adaptation of the off-off Broadway Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but have been left underwhelmed by all the recent big budget film musicals, so I'm glad to say that Sweeney Todd, wipes the floor with every major screen musical of the last decade, including the likable if over extended Hairspary. Most surprising is how shockingly gruesome the the film becomes in the second half. This must be the most blood drenched film since Shogun Assassin, with arteries spurting blood like like fountains as throats are cut, with the violence escalating towards the end leading towards a climax that is exhilarating, heartbreaking and satisfyingly bleak.

Unlike the dreary dirges Danny Elfman supplied for Burton's stop frame musicals, Sondheim's score is a joy to listen to from beginning to end, its dark romanticism sometimes reminding me of Bernhard Herrmann, perfectly fitting what is both a musical and a horror film in equal measures.

Depp and Bonham Carter are both excellent and it's down to their performances that I never quite lost sympathy with them in their descent into madness, blood lust and cannibalism.

Musical haters may not be converted as 75% percent of the dialogue is sung, but this completely dispatches any notion of cloying sentimentally the genre is often associated with.
Awesome, dark and funny. Classic Tim Burton stuff.9/10
Good dark fun.

I knew nothing of this movie except Tim Burton and Johnny Depp had something to do with it, and that, as the executive director put it, there was "lots of blood". I don't think of myself as liking musicals, although I should probably reconsider now.

I had a moment of dread when the movie started and there was a mention of Sacha Baron Cohen being in it. However his performance was in fact quite good. While his acting has a few things in common with his over-the-top Borat character, it somehow fits rather well within the movie.

Some elements of the plot are rather predictable, in a Greek tragedy sort of way, but it doesn't really detract from the movie. We get to enjoy the downward spiral even though we know its shape.

All in all, the movie was awesome, filled with damned and hopeless characters that still made you laugh at every turn.
Dark Humor Done Right9/10
Despite the grim expectations from the story synopsis, the film delivers gore in a surprisingly tasteful way. There are no screaming teenagers running from a lunatic; instead we get a somewhat British blend of satire, slapstick and just "wrong" humor. Although I'm not much of a Johnny Depp fan, I enjoyed his performance as well as Helena Bonham Carter's. Even the portrayal of the common clients was stunning.

Despite being generally familiar with the story, I fell into some traps expecting specific twists, yet something different (and better) being delivered. This is a model of how to do dark humor that filmmakers should and probably will follow. It is most refreshing. Don't read the story and don't read any spoilers until you've seen it.
A refreshing and brilliant film10/10
Contrary to the many comments I have read and heard about the film thus far, I thought it was absolutely wonderful. After what some could term a "dry spell" for Tim Burton, it is such a breath of fresh air to see this new offering, Sweeney Todd. The movie showed Tim returning to his roots of the dark, the sinister, and the macabre. All were blended together in the setting he is so very well-known for, the dark streets of London.

In addition, I thought the fact that he maintained the musical aspect of the film/play worked in the movie's favor. I know Johnny Depp has said that he can't sing, but he sang rather well if you ask me. Keeping the cockney accent, whether singing or not, it made the film that much better. While I was surprised to see Danny Elfman not included in this movie, I believe the music was performed and carried out beautifully, nonetheless. Indeed, the accents can at times make it hard to discern what is being said, but that's not always a bad thing, considering the circumstances. Were they to all of a sudden not speak or sing with their cockney tones, it may provide a problem with consistency. Overall, I loved the movie and have no complaints. A very refreshing return to the realms and themes that Tim Burton is so very amazing at capturing. Top notch!
Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd!10/10
Attend the Tale! This is a major must-see film. It's first and foremost a musical, with essentially all the characters singing throughout, but it's also horrific and hilarious. If cheerful musicals aren't your thing, never fear – this is Sweeney Todd – a very darkly comic and tragic tale. This is a faithful but unique adaptation of the award-winning and much beloved stage musical by Stephen Sondheim, with few cuts and changes. Contrary to some musicals where the songs aren't necessary to the basic plot, these 'meaty' songs tell the tale. Sweeney Todd is a throat-slashing barber (an urban legend) obsessed with revenge. His accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, is smitten with unrequited love and brings new meaning to "waste not, want not" in her meat-pie bakery.

Tim Burton is at his best, artfully meshing the powerful and beautiful music with stunning visuals. He successfully creates a much more intimate atmosphere than can be achieved on stage, with characters up-close and personal, and he makes brilliant use of light/dark contrasts and color. Although none of the actors (except Kelly) are professional singers, each character is portrayed very effectively with the acting and singing combined. The cinematography, set designs, costumes, and makeup are all striking. The horrific moments are graphically brutal and gory – Burton does not skimp on the blood, and it even becomes intentionally over-the-top (the camera lens is splattered at one point). But it does not seem gratuitous in that it IS the reality of the story, and it also has a metaphorical role. The violence IS disturbing, but you can cover your eyes if you're squeamish (it's only a few scenes). There are also hilarious moments – especially "The Contest" with a rival barber (Cohen), and the dreamy "By the Sea" sequence.

And can Johnny Depp sing? And how! Not only does he sing Sondheim, and sing it well, but he creates a refreshingly new interpretation of this complex character, and does an amazing job acting the part through the singing, staying 100% in character and accent throughout. He goes from lovingly crooning to his razors in "My Friends" to thrilling madness in "Epiphany." Rather than a booming, operatic baritone with grand gestures, his is a more subdued but intense Sweeney. As the (cut) ballad says, he's odd, pale, subtle, and smooth. It's a great character, and an excellent and Oscar-worthy performance. Johnny Depp IS Sweeney Todd! But perhaps the best thing about this movie is that it isn't just about Sweeney. It's filled with other interesting characters, and the entire cast is remarkable. Carter's voice is a bit thin, but she creates a very adorable and complex Mrs. Lovett. She is a wonderfully colorful and humorous contrast to the dark and gloomy Sweeney. The judge (Rickman), Pirelli (Cohen), beadle (Spall), and Lucy (Kelly) all seem perfect to me. Anthony (Bower), Johanna (Wisener), and Toby (Sanders) are all very young and innocent, with angelic voices, and little Toby is a scene-stealer.

This movie is thoroughly entertaining and it leaves the audience in a stunned silence. I can't wait to see it again!