Sweeney Todd is a cult figure in the Victorian England. He is known as a maniac barber who killed his customers. If in the 19th century Sweeney Todd was no more than a yellow tabloid character of literature, nowadays he is a protagonist of several films, cartoons, and even musicals. Not surprisingly, this legend has attracted the attention of one of the main Hollywood dreamers - Tim Burton, famous for his interest in grim myths and legends. This director has his own, unique style. Burton`s creations are recognizable from the very first moments: addictive, thrilling music, gothic scenery, strange-looking mechanisms, lack of bright colors in the video series are the key features of his works.
The movie relates about a young and naive barber Benjamin Barker, who lived once in London. He was married to a lovely woman named Lucy, who bore him a very charming daughter. For his trouble, the beauty of his wife was also appreciated by the voluptuous Judge Turpin. The cruel man has sent Benjamin Barker to the lifelong prison, in order to get his wife without interference. Fifteen years later, Barker escaped; under the name of Sweeney Todd he got to London; however, he did not find his wife and daughter there. Mrs. Lovett, the owner of a small bakery on the floor below, did not recognize Benjamin Barker at first and told him his story. Todd was suppressed by her words and swore terrible revenge to his oppressors - Judge Turpin and his lackey police officer Beadle Bamford, who assisted the judge in his unworthy affairs. On the advice of Mrs. Lovett, who did not hide her affection for the fugitive, a man returned to his former craft - became a barber, hoping once to see the judge in his institution and kill him. He had 15 years of hard labor, and the things that he found when he returned to London, burned out all the senses, except hatred in his mind. He is a walking dead man, who has the blazing fire of revenge instead of the heart. Although a subject to which he is able to experience the friendly feelings exists; it is a sharp razor.
The plot revolves around a terrible human wickedness - the revenge. The protagonist, Benjamin Barker is obsessed with it. However, it is not the whole truth since Benjamin Barker is already dead. This poor man died when he was sent to prison, and the vile judge raped his wife and sheltered his daughter. It was Sweeney Todd who returned from prison; he is totally another person who needs revenge because now he has nothing to live for.
A long time ago when the world was still bright and multicolored in the eyes of the protagonist; when he was beloved husband, had a happy family and a good name; he became a victim of betrayal. The audience knows almost nothing about Benjamin Barker; they discover a man named Sweeney Todd who comes into this dark city that can be considered as a reflection of his inner world. The only color, which prevails in the movie except gray, is red - the blood of senselessly murdered victims. In the movie, the director tries to know whether this cruel barber is able to return his previous kind personality. Indeed, this story is perhaps not so difficult to tell. However, the director selects the musical form of the narrative, in order to make such a seemingly not poetic story even more unusual. Making movie-musicals is a rather risky thing at the present time, since not everyone can sit a few hours at the screen, listening to the meaning of the songs. It is much easier to take the dialogues of heroes, rather than singing. A musical is certainly a very unusual genre which requires careful and patient approach. Indeed, it is an amazing and very beautiful way to express bright and sincere feelings of the protagonists; thanks to singing the viewer can understand and feel the magical atmosphere. Unfortunately, not everyone understands such movies.
Music takes a special place in Sweeney Todd since it performs quite important functions – it can excite or soothe whenever it is needed. For example, due to music, the moment when Sweeney Todd brings his razor to the neck of Judge Turpin is extremely nervous. All the emotions are expressed in music and it helps the viewer to reach the peak of curiosity and excitement. In this movie, the words and music, voice and songs intertwine miraculously, amazingly changing one another, but at the same time, smoothly and completely appropriate, adding darkness, mystery and a bit of subtle and momentary humor.
Johnny Depp`s Sweeney Todd surpassed his Jack Sparrow, once again confirming that this actor is a genius, who can cope with any role. An explosive mixture of hatred, revenge and pain can be seen in the eyes of the obsessed barber. His behavior is unpredictable, and his smile is deadly deceptive. He is obsessed and crazy; his actions cannot be guessed. Helena Bonham Carter has equal with Johnny Depp's talent, and together they represent a perfectly balanced pair. On the one hand, Mrs. Lovett is a bloody monster, separating people and baking pies of their meat for the sake of raising her businesses. However, at the same time she is a woman, capable of love. Indeed, Helena looks perfect in this role.
The exaggeration that merges in some places makes this movie even more fabulous while black humor slightly dilutes the tension and drama and gives some ease of narration. Sweeney Todd is full of gloomy and gothic atmosphere, typical to Tim Burton`s style, filled with rustling and creaking sounds and smells of London of the 19th century. London of the 19th century was the city which was shrouded in mystery and mystique of the night, where the lawlessness and impunity ruled, where judges broke the laws for their own selfish purposes. Here, behind the mask of a good-natured barber, an insidious and cunning maniac is hiding. He is obsessed with the idea of irreconcilable cruel vengeance for a family loss.
Surprising and frightening, alluring and repulsive, funny and sad, loved and hated, attractive and terrifying things are intertwined in this amazing and diverse film. Perhaps it is only Tim Burton, with the company of his indispensable actors, could accommodate the carnage and romantic line in one movie, which is perceived as inappropriate at first, but eventually plays a crucial role in the denouement of the film. Indeed, this movie is primarily about the cruelty, not only human. The director wants to say that the whole world is cruel; it was cruel for almost all the participants in the story. All personages are miserable - Benjamin, Lucy, Mrs. Lovett, Toby, and even Joanna with her bright future. Misery is the norm, and the cruelty is just a possible way to survive for all of them. The producers and the director of the movie have made an attempt to create a brilliant musical which analyzes serious problems. It should be said that they succeeded in it. The director`s idea is clear and done brilliantly. All the movie characters can serve as amazing examples of his idea.
London is described as the darkest city in the world. The city is full of dirt, stench, darkness, cold, alienated; only rats feel comfortable here. Taking this into account, Sweeney Todd does not give this city the right to the existence. According to him, all people deserve death – it is just a matter of time. The love, without which this story will not happen, is forced to take a back seat though it exists in the hearts of the characters; the revenge and hatred leave almost no place for it.
The film is full of gothic unique atmosphere inherent in horror films 30-40th. Despite the obvious bloody, misanthropy and even some ugly aesthetics, the film leaves the feeling of certain hope. The protagonist Sweeney Todd, is fully endowed by Depp`s charm, and causes not pity but sympathy. The director was able to achieve the necessary balance of acting forces when with the Depp`s first violin the other participants created a harmonious ensemble. In the movie, everyone was in the right place and embodied a genius directorial idea with inspiration.
In conclusion, it should be noted that in this movie, everything is in its place. Moreover, everything is excellent and flawless: directing, actors, music, cinematography, screenplay, editing, sets, makeup, hairstyles, etc. This model musical is a true masterpiece of the world cinema. It should be said that Tim Burton once again proved to the audience that he is a master of ambiguity and extraordinary films.
This movie is totally worth watching since it gives many useful lessons as well as brings aesthetic satisfaction to the audience. It is really stylish and surreal film which is like a fine line between genius and insanity. It should be said, that Tim Burton has created one more matchless tale, this time even darker, more dramatic, heavier, and crueler. First and foremost, Sweeney Todd is a tale of the revenge on the bloodthirsty barber with a broken life. The breathtaking, visually beautiful, well delivered, and at the same time cruel and very sad Sweeney Todd can be called one of the gloomiest musicals in the cinematography history.