In 2017 I wrote a series of unique December reviews of non Christmas movies that I personally feel are staples to watch every year around the holidays, last time we chose Chicken Run, Bridget Jones Diary and About a boy, last year I even discussed growing up with the Lord of the Rings movies so there are few exceptions to my Not So Christmas movies and I wanted to start this year off with one of my favourite movies of all time, the gory and gothic musical adaptation of Sweeny Todd from director Tim Burton.
The sad tale of Sweeny Todd is that of Barber Benjamin Barker who was wrongly convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, he managed to escape his prison in Australia and sneak back to London under the name Sweeny Todd.
It was the malicious Judge Turpin who sent Barker to prison in order to get close with his wife Lucy, after she denied his advances he sexually assaults her which causes her to attempt suicide by poison which she fails and ends up going insane instead. Judge Turpin adopts Benjamin Barkers daughter and raises her as his own with the sick plan to marry her when shes old enough. This is one of the reasons that Sweeny Todd comes back to London to seek revenge.
Sweeny Todd has revenge as its main theme and the movie does not shy away from how evil Judge Turpin is, so that that viewer is rooting for Todd even though he himself becomes a mass serial killer and villain throughout the movie.
Apart from Johnny Depp who plays Todd, we have a lot of big names in the movie, Timothy Spall as Beadle Bamford, Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin, Sasha Baron Cohen as Senior Pirelli and Helena Boham Carter as Mrs Lovett and many more.
Helena as Mrs Lovett stands out because she really shows the pure evil side to the character that I feel a lot of the stage productions don’t do so well. She is a selfish person who convinces Todd to murder so she can make pies from human meat but not only that she has no heart and only cares for herself.
She loves Todd but he never feels that way back but she is so self centered that she doesn’t even notice this, she even lies to him and says that his wife is dead when she knows she isn’t and the worst thing she does in the movie that shows this pure lack of empathy is when the young boy she is using as free labour tells her about his worries of Todd and calls her mum, her response is to lock him in the pie house and get Todd to go down there and slit his throat.
I have a theory about the colours and lighting of this movie and it will be interesting to see if you agree.
I genuinely believe that in order to make the “protagonists” of the movie stand out brighter choices for clothes and the environments these characters inhabit were used so that we as an audience would be able to see what is considered Good over Bad, Sweeny Todd is a bad person no matter how sad his back story is but it is hard not to root for him since he is the main character, I’ve always noticed that everyone in this film bar the main protagonists use darker and grey tones, Jonathan still uses these but his dress colours do stand out a little bit more than the likes of Todd or Judge Turpin, Johanna’s dress colours are very positive and bursting off the screen and even her room is the most colourful area in the entire film apart from the flash backs.
Any flashbacks or day dreaming segments also use very bright and positive colours I feel this is again so that these stand out over the current events of the film, this is only time we ever see Mrs Lovett and Sweeny Todd in bright colours, we did see Benjamin Barker in bright colours before his imprisonment as this was before he got corrupted and the same can be said about his wife, she uses bright colours until she goes mad and joins the rest of the darker toned characters.
The music for the film is the same as the stage production, originally these songs were written by Stephen Sondheim who sadly passed away this year.
His music for Sweeny Todd is easily some of the best that has ever hit Broadway, it has a lot comedy in it but still manages to remain dark and twisted, all of the actors in this film sing very well in the movie and there isn’t any songs I really dislike but my favourites are “The Worst Pies in London” Pirelli’s miracle elixir” and ” Epiphany” but all of the songs are great and this is easily one of my top 5 musical soundtracks.
I don’t know why this movie reminds me of Christmas but for whatever reason it just seems like a holiday flick perhaps its all the blood, I mean red is a big colour of Christmas right?
In all seriousness Sweeny Todd is just a fantastic film, it has a great cast, one of the best soundtracks in musical theatre and is just bleeding that Tim Burton charm and visual style which myself and a lot of others cannot get enough of !
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