Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sweeney Todd --- The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

We saw the film last night on TV (Rogers on demand). It was a musical film directed by Tim Burton (who also wrote Nightmare Before Christmas). I’ve read that there were several broadway shows about this story before. I could not comment their difference but I am sure that they are equally excellent.

The film has excellent choice of actors and actresses for lead characters. It amuses me to find most of the actors in the Harry Potter movie in the film. Actor Johnny Depp takes the lead character by the name Todd Sweeney (or Benjamin Barker before his unfortunate fate). Helena Bonham Carter is the leading actress for the character Mrs. Lovette ( who also performed Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter movie). Alan Rickman, more known as Professor Snape in Harry Potter, played the wicked judge who is the root of all Todd Sweeney’s misfortune. The judge has a sidekick named Beadle (another Harry Potter character in the name of Peter Pettigrew) who is as foul as the judge himself. I should also mention Pirelli although his role is not as big as the others just for the fact that he has played Borat in another movie … hehe. The rest of the charcters are Anthony, a young lad who is with Todd Sweeney on the boat to London. Joanna is the daughter of Todd sweeney who grew up with the evil Judge. And the beggar woman who darts in and out of scenes.

The location was in London during the year 1846. It’s about the misfortune of a barber named Benjamin Barker. He had a beautiful wife and a baby that he adores greatly. But there is this evil and corrupt judge who also had an eye for his wife. The judge staged a false accusation to get Benjamin in prison and away from his family. He was sent to Australia to be exiled for 16 years. His wife desperate and alone was left vulnerable to the aggression and deception of the evil judge. After 16 years, he is back in London under anew name…Todd Sweeney. He met a young lad on the boat named Anthony. Upon his return, he met Mr. Lovette who owns a meat pie shop. Although he may have changed his name, Mrs Lovette was able to find out that he is Benjamin Barker. She told him that his wife has poisoned herself and that his daughter was adopted by the cruel Judge. He had found his old silver razors and has planned his revenge with the help of Mrs. Lovette. His first attempt to kill the judge has failed when the judge discovered that he is a friend of the young lad Anthony who threaten to take Johanna away. This has caused the young girl to be sent away to unknown place. This has greatly saddened Todd Sweeny and it started his serial killings. Using his razors to kill his unsuspecting clients. To make things worst and more gross, the cadavers were turned to ground meat and made into Mrs. Lovette’s meat pies. Suddenly, people are frequenting her shop for the delicious meat pies (gross!). One day, Todd Sweeney heard from Anthony that he knows were to find his daughter Johanna. He help Anthony how he can go in to the mental asylum where she is. And lured the judge to come to him once again. He told the judge that he has Johanna and has agreed to marry him. That is when he was able to get his revenge, he killed the judge and sent him to the meat pie gallows. And then he found the beggar woman snooping around in his shop… and he killed her too. He found his daughter hiding and almost killed her too for he can’t recognize her. He was helping Mrs Lovette to dispose the deads when he finally recognize the beggar woman. She is not dead as Mrs. Lovette said and he himself has killed her. He turned to Mrs. Lovette with accusing looks and Mrs. Lovette said she did it only because she loves him. Mrs. Lovette ended up in the furnace. He was cradling his wife when Toby (the child who was cared after by Mrs. Lovette) came and using his razors, slashed his neck… thus ending his life as well.

This is a typical story of love and revenge. What made it interesting is the music and opera like content. It’s the bass-baritone voice of Todd Sweeney, the mezzo-soprano voice of Mrs. Lovette, Tenor by Perelli and bass by the judge. The way they mix together to create the story is quite entertaining. Creating a gothic background and setting has greatly helped generate a feeling of ominous darkness in the air. Johnny Depp has done a great job potraying this kind of character as he has done on so many like Edward scisorhands.

Lessons were obvious .. vengeance is always not the way to go. But how can one find justice in a corrupt world?


Anonymous said...

I have not seen the movie but I've heard good reviews about it.

I'm a JD fan ever since '21 Jump Street' and I like him best in Edward Scissorhands and Donny Brasco.

The thing about vengeance is that some people have to do it so others may learn. But apparently, the lessons are not enough because it never ends and becomes a vicious cycle. The collateral damage are just statistics, the innocent are nameless faces.

For others, vengeance means justice.

EM said...

So true Juleste!

You should definitely watch this fim then for JD has done excellently.

Not for the boys of reasons though.

have a great day!