Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

[Screenshot]Sweeney Tood was one of those projects which has to cause a bit of trepidation. It’s a fairly ambitious musical, one demanding some pretty solid chops in both acting and singing, and Tim Burton handed the leads over to… his usual suspects, who are not actually professional singers. That it was possible is surprising, and that it is actually pretty good is nothing short of a miracle. It’s been ages since I saw the stage production of Sweeney Todd, but this recreation did it justice in tone, acting, and singing. Johnny Depp is well-suited to the role of Sweeney Todd himself, and fortunately he actually hits the notes and does a satisfactory performance (movie actors do have one distinctive advantage over stage actors: multiple takes!). Helena Bonham Carter’s Mrs. Lovett feels a bit wrong to me, but I feel her character needs to be less goth and more matronly, which may just be my perspective. The bit roles are excellent too, if played a bit too much within type: Alan Rickman basically can’t play anyone but greasy authority figures any more, and Sascha Baron Cohen, whose type I don’t generally like, manages to work it into a surprisingly appropriate mold as Pirelli.

It’s not exactly the equal of an excellent stage performance: the principals do quite well but trained musicians might bring a bit more polish, and some of the songs were dropped for brevity (or perhaps the actors’ comfort). Nonetheless, this is surprisingly competent as a stageplay adaptation, and accomplished from a cinematographic perspective as well.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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