Thursday, November 20, 2008

Films: Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street a bloody musical (pardon my pun)! That's right ladies and gents, the film adaptation is actually based on Stephen Sondheim's musical of the same name. I was quite surprised when I heard the first strains of the musical because it wasn't advertised as a musical at all. Seeing as "curiosity killed the cat" (pardon my pun...again), I was quite hesitant to look up details about Sweeney Todd but eventually, I found the courage to.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a 2007 musical-thriller and the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's award-winning 1979 stage musical. It re-tells the Victorian melodramatic tale of Sweeney Todd, a fictitious English barber who, driven insane by the loss of his wife and daughter, murders his customers with a cut-throat razor, and with the help of his accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, turns their remains into meat pies.

My View/Summary
Again, I was quite surprised when I found out that it was a musical. I hadn't read any article pertaining to the 2007 adaptation of the movie so I didn't know the particulars. Being a fan of Johnny Depp and loving his "out of character" roles, I immediately wanted to see the film. It wasn't shown back in Dumaguete though, so I had to wait until I rented out the DVD. As luck would have it, the Burbank Public Library had it and I immediately borrowed it.

It was a week ago, I think, that I saw Cities of the Underworld on the History Channel where I heard about Sweeney Todd again and was reminded about the film. It is quite interesting that Sweeney Todd was considered a contemporary of Jack the Ripper; both of them not proved to be real people; and both movies starred Johnny Depp! Freaky, huh? But I guess only Johnny D had the talent and the air to portray someone this weird.

After my initial "shock" of the musical, I found the movie quite entertaining. The constant singing actually lessened the freakiness of the film that is why I wasn't as creeped out as I should be. I did find the cutting and the slashing to be very visual indeed; which earned it a "Restricted" rating for its "graphic bloody violence." Well, I mean, Sweeney Todd was rumored to slit throats using a straight razor while shaving his customers which had to be very bloody, indeed.

The movie actually shows Todd as someone out for revenge because he was falsely accused by Judge Turpin who was after his wife Lucy. Todd was sent to Australia for fifteen years and when he came back, he was "back to business," working as a barber on top of Mrs. Lovett's (Helena Bonham Carter) Meat Pie Shop. Mrs. Lovett and Todd reached in an agreement and while Todd slit his customers throats, she would grind them and make them into pies which were quite popular. I also loved the song that went with this scene.

In this version of the story, Todd also found out that Judge Turpin adopted his daughter and was also planning to marry her. Judge Turpin was almost killed by Depp only to be aborted by a sailor who had seen Joannah (Todd's daughter) and was planning to run away with her. The movie takes off from there are Todd goes on a killing rampage but his eye was still on Turpin and Turpin's assistant Beadle.

Todd's first victim was a faux-Italian barber Adolfo Pirelli who had a boy servant with him. The duo, Todd and Mrs. Lovett, kept the boy, Toby, as Mrs. Lovett's servant. Later, Toby found out about what Todd was doing and warned Mrs. Lovett about it. Naturally, the duo planned to kill the boy for knowing too much. On that night however, things changed. It was then that Beadle came to investigate Mrs. Lovett's bakehouse because neighbors where complaining of the stench coming out of her chimney, especially at night. Todd disposed of him and then went looking for Toby who had run away. Anthony, the sailor, and Joannah arrive at the Barber Shop but it was empty so Joannah, dressed as a boy, was left there to wait for Anthony while he found them a passage to wherever it was they where going. An old mad woman came up to the room and Joannah hid in a trunk in the shop. While there, Todd finds the woman who seemed to recognize him but he slashes her throat using the straight razor. Judge Turpin then arrives telling him that Anthony has Joannah and Todd convinces him to have a shave while reassuring him that Joannah was with Mrs. Lovett. Todd quickly kills Turpin and sees Joannah, dressed as a boy peeking from inside the trunk. Before Todd could kill her, he hears a scream from the bakehouse and goes to investigate; it was Mrs. Lovette who screamed. Secrets where then revealed and Todd recognizes the old mad woman to actually be his wife, Lucy who was locked up on Bedlam when she wouldn't give in to Turpin. Mrs. Lovett swears that she kept the truth from him for his own good but Todd throws her into the oven. The movie ends with Todd holding his wife in his hands, and Toby slitting Todd's throat with his razor as revenge for killing Mrs. Lovett who was like a mother to him.

Whew, that was quite a mouthful. I did enjoy the film but I had to cringe at the "bloody visual killings" that I saw; although I thought that it was in keeping with the theme. I was quite tickled however, when I saw who played Turpin and Beadle! They were none other than Snape and Wormtail! I mean, Alan Rickman (Judge Turpin) and Timothy Spall (Beadle Bamford) who play Severus Snape and Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter films. I just couldn't hold my laughter when I saw both of them together, yeah I know, I'm weird that way. Plus, Helena Bonham Carter also played Bellatrix LeStrange in the HP film OOTP, although I just couldn't picture her as LeStrange while watching the movie unlike what I did with Snape and Wormtail hehehehehe.

All in all, I give this musical-thriller four stars for extremely surprising me and giving me a few chuckles to boot.

Info: Wikipedia
Image: Google Images