315. Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Movie: Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber if Fleet Street

Release Date: December 21, 2007

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen.

Tag Lines: “Never Forget. Never Forgive.”

“Beware! Sweeney Todd is coming. This Christmas.”

“Johnny Depp is THE BARBER.”

“Helena Bonham Carter is THE BAKER.”

Relevance: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love musicals. Because I do. Whether on stage or on the screen, I am a huge fan. In fact, there are twenty-four musicals on my list of most influential movies, the third highest of all genres. Stephen Sondheim on the other hand is a big hit or miss with me. There are only a handful of his shows that I can actually stomach. ‘Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,’ in my opinion is one of his best.

I was in a stage production of the musical way back in 1993 while I was getting my Master’s Degree in Theater. It was some of the most difficult music I ever had to learn but also one of the best times I ever had performing on stage. I have seen many different productions of it through the years and it never gets old. I was both very excited and nervous when they announced they were making a film version of it. Basically I didn’t want them to fuck it up.

Luckily, Tim Burton, one of my favorites, was the director. This is the first of seven of his movies that I’ll be watching this year, second highest of all directors. It was also starring Johnny Depp, who I consider one of the finest actors of his generation. (This is his first appearance of seven movies you’ll be seeing on this blog.) So it’s really no surprise I love this movie.

I saw it in the theaters on the day that it opened and I was so pleased at what Tim Burton and the rest of the creators had done with ‘Sweeney Todd.’ It was a grand adaptation from stage to screen. Was it perfect? Of course not. But it totally captured the darkness and grit if its source material. And it entertained the hell out of me and made me love Johnny Depp even more than I already did.

Today’s Thoughts: “At last! My arm is complete again.”

I get that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely adore this movie musical. I was so excited to watch it again today as I haven’t seen it in quite a few years. It’s still as dark, bloody, heartbreaking and humorous as I remember. It is directed beautifully by Tim Burton, who put his own magical touch on the film without taking too much away from the original source. The art direction, set and costumes alone are gorgeous.

The score is so haunting and beautiful. “Nothing’s Gonna Harm You” has to rank up there with one of the greatest musical ballads of all time. Yes, the “chorus” is not featured at all in the movie, but I think that would have taken away from the pacing of the film. So I can overlook the omission. I watched it alone today, so I was singing right along to “God That’s Good” just to see if I could remember some of my parts.

I know some “theater people” have trouble with the vocals in the movie. Not me. If a song is performed well, I don’t care if some notes are misguided. Both Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter did a fine job with their roles, especially Mr. Depp. I can watch and listen to “Epiphany” any time.

And Alan Rickman uttering “Mr. Todd” the same way he says “Mr. Potter” is worth the watch. And I know that anyone reading that last sentence is now saying it a la Alan Rickman. God, that’s good.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Achievement in Art Direction, Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo (winner), Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Johnny Depp (nomination), Academy Award for Best Achievement in Costume Design, Colleen Atwood (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Johnny Depp (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director, TIm Burton (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, Colleen Atwood (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Make Up & Hair, Ivana Primorac (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Tim Burton (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor, Johnny Depp (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Young Actor, Ed Sanders (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Production Design, Dante Ferretti (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Director, Tim Burton (winner).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, Netflix, DVD Availability.

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