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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is the best horror-gore-comedy-musical of all time.

April 26, 2010

Okay this might be true because there’s not that many movies that fall under the horror-gore-comedy-musical genre. This doesn’t take away from the fact that Sweeney Todd is an awesome film though. The movie came out around Christmastime in 2007 and I was UBER excited.

I’m really interested in those horrible events in British history; Sweeney Todd, Jack the Ripper, the Great Fire etc.

In 2007, on a trip to London, my parents and I visited the London Dungeon, this really cool tourist attraction that showcases all those horrible events in London’s history. I was most interested in the Sweeney Todd showcase. The tour guide told us the story about the demon barber and his partner, Mrs. Lovett and her pie shop. They even had a Sweeney Todd ride. I was well excited, so I went home and researched the legend. It turns out there’s an actual Fleet Street in London today and Steven Sondheim had made a musical out of the legend in 1979, performed all across Britain.

By the time I got back to Jamaica, the Sweeney Todd movie was advertising as “Coming Soon”, starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. I was so excited because Tim Burton was the director; and he’s amazing. And I love Helena for her role as Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter movies. In fact, a lot of the Sweeney Todd cast appeared in Harry Potter as well. So I knew that the cast would be good. And Johnny Depp is definitely one of my favourites.

For those of you who don’t know,

Sweeney Todd is a fictional character who first appeared as the main antagonist of a penny dreadful serial titled The String of Pearls written in 1846. Claims that Sweeney Todd was a real, historical person are strongly disputed by scholars, although there are possible legendary prototypes, arguably making the story of Sweeney Todd an early example of an urban legend.

Legend has it that Sweeney Todd, the barber, slits the throats of his customers before they are dispatched into the basement via the revolving trapdoor. After Todd has robbed his dead victims of their goods, Mrs. Lovett, his partner in crime, assists him in disposing of the bodies by baking their flesh into meat pies, and selling them to the unsuspecting customers of her pie shop. Todd’s barber shop is situated at 186 Fleet Street, London, next to St. Dunstan’s church, and is connected to Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop in nearby Bell Yard by means of an underground passage. Yupp, a real, live, actual place in London. Exciting, huh?

The film is a musical, which just makes it all the more delectable. I adore musicals.

The musical establishes that Todd was once Benjamin Barker, a middle class barber, married to Lucy Barker with an infant daughter Johanna. The villainous Judge Turpin wanted Lucy for himself and had Barker arrested on false charges and transported for life to Australia. The play begins 15 years later, when the barber has returned to London, completely transformed by his experiences: “That man is dead. It’s Todd now. Sweeney Todd.” Mrs. Lovett, a widow, owns the spectacularly unsuccessful meat pie shop below Todd’s old home. She recognises her former neighbor and tells Todd that Lucy poisoned herself after Turpin raped her, and that Turpin adopted baby Johanna as his ward. By the time Todd returns to London, Johanna has become a young woman and falls in love with a sailor, Anthony Hope, with whom she plans to elope.

In the musical’s climactic scene, Todd finally kills Judge Turpin, as well as a deranged beggar woman — who turns out to be none other than Lucy, Todd’s long-lost wife, who had been driven insane. When Mrs. Lovett confesses that she didn’t tell him Lucy was still alive because she loves him, he waltzes her around the oven before throwing Mrs. Lovett into the bakehouse oven. As Todd grieves over his wife’s body, Toby, gone mad after discovering the secret of the meat pies and Sweeney’s murder of Mrs. Lovett (whom he loved like a mother), sneaks up behind him and slashes Todd’s throat with Todd’s own razor. Todd dies with his wife’s body in his arms. Anthony and Johanna — having accidentally witnessed Turpin’s murder — return with two policemen, only to find the bakehouse floor littered with dead bodies. The only living soul is Toby, now a raving lunatic, hair white from shock.

Gosh, this film has twists all over the place and you have to watch it several times to truly understand.

It’s one of my favourites for various reasons; I’ve watched it more times than I can count. I know all the songs (and randomly sing them in math class)

That’s the best part! #okbye

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Abigale Walker permalink
    April 26, 2010 3:07 pm

    Excellent post!
    I love this movie too 🙂

  2. April 26, 2010 10:36 pm

    So i am a lover of Sweenet Todd too *yaay* confetti* lol. Only thing with the lil review, u didn’t say who toby was initially… i’ll be adding ur blog to my bookmarks *wink*

  3. April 27, 2010 7:03 am

    Lol thanks!
    You’re right; I just kinda stuck Toby in there without mentioning who he is or where he came from.

  4. Heineensige permalink
    May 22, 2010 8:40 pm

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Cheers
    Christian, iwspo.net

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