Directed by Tim Burton
Some years ago, Lars Von Trier made that remarkable Bjork-starrer Dancer in the Dark that gave a grim and gloomy spin to the ordinarily happy and feelgood musicals. Sweeny Todd garnishes it with liberal helpings from the horror and slasher genre. Of course, the film does have songs and melodies aplenty, but infinitely more blood and gore. It keeps getting bloodier by the scene, yet remains curiously engaging.
In two words, Sweeny Todd is a revenge drama. Benjamin Barker, the barber (Depp suitably twisted again), returns home to London in the new avatar of Sweeny Todd dying to wreak vengeance on the lascivious Judge Turpin (Rickman) who had torn him apart from his ‘beautiful, pious, naive’ wife and little daughter. The past is quickly encapsulated and done away with in one scene. The stress is on the present, the repercussions it has on Barker and how he gets dehumanised in his hunt for retribution. Providing him a helping hand is Mrs Lovett (Bonham Carter), who makes the worst meat pies in town in a kitchen infested with roaches and insects. The subplot is all to do with Todd’s daughter having grown up and falling in love with a young man even as the possessive judge Turpin keeps her under lock and key.
The film doesn’t let go of its Broadway roots; it unfolds like a filmed stage musical. The atmosphere is very Jack the Ripper: dark and dingy. The only ray of sunshine comes in Lovett’s quirkily-shot daydream of a wedding and honeymoon with Todd. In fact, the feel and look is very stylised, specially the chalky, pancake makeup.
The serial killings begin with that of the rival Italian barber Pirelli (Cohen). They keep getting nauseatingly macabre and stomach-churningly grotesque. Years ago, Hitchcock’s Rope shocked viewers by showing the murderers using the very chest in which they had hidden the dead body as a dinner table. The juxtaposition of the dead body with food and feasts was hard to digest. In Sweeny Todd, things get worse: Mrs Lovett’s meat pies start getting tastier as the people are killed and the stench of flesh starts filling the air. Gruesome! And if you love your meat pies, chances are you’ll think twice before eating them again.
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Courtesy: Film Information