Forgotten favourites – Sweeney Todd

Posted on 17 November 2020
By Dana Andersen
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Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd was well received, quite widely discussed by the general public, and seems to have since nose-dived out of most people’s memories in the years since its release.

The truth of it though, is that Sweeney Todd was great.

From the long journey of the intro’s CGI blood, right to the heartbreaking character deaths at the end, Sweeney Todd kept the audience gripped and entertained in a way musicals hadn’t managed to do in a long time.

It may not have been Hamilton, but it can easily be seen as the start of stage musicals coming to life in film, and not being as terrible as everyone expected.

The cast consisted of Tim Burton favourites Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, but also saw fantastic performances from the late Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, and even Sacha Baron Cohen, who bought the slight comedic edge that such a dark movie needed.

It should be remembered that they are actors, and not the triple threat, singing and dancing actors usually expected to star in musicals, and this certainly led to some vocal performances less impressive than the professional stage production, but for film, having a cast that can portray facial and vocal emotion is much more important.

Outside of the actors, each set is beautifully crafted to be interesting to look at, despite almost the entire film being so grey and lit in a way that makes it almost look black and white, outside of the sharp red blood.

Sharp angles and plenty of windows in Todd’s Barber Shop both portray his prickly personality, and the false sense of innocence he tries to display is reflected in the huge windows that light the space.

Throughout the film it’s abundantly clear that each and every thing the audience will see has been considered and crafted to add to the experience, be it through imagery that relates to characters, or tiny hints at whats to come.

Despite being marketed as a ‘slasher musical’, and certainly being a gory tale, its not as stomach turning as audiences may expect, though it’s definitely not for young or sensitive audiences.

Mrs.Lovetts unwavering admiration and validation of Sweeney is probably scarier than any murder scene in the movie, thanks to the actual plot not being overwhelmed by the dancing and singing.

It’s not a perfect musical, nor a perfect movie, but as a musical movie, it’s one of the best to have been made, and not one that deserves to have been forgotten.