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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 & 1936) Reviews

Sweeney Todd 2007 PosterSweeney Todd:
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
(2007) Review

“I can guarantee the closest shave you’ll ever know!”


Tim Burton directs this big screen musical adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical and book by Hugh Wheeler based on the play by Christopher Bond which was inspired by The String of Pearls Penny Dreadful.

Starring Johnny Depp as the titular character with Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs Lovett and Alan Rickman plays the villainous Judge Turpin backed up by his henchman Beadle Bamford played by Timothy Spall.

Not a bad cast and even Sasha Baron Cohen makes an appearance.

So Sweeney is back in London after being exiled fifteen years ago and he is looking to find his family and take revenge on the Judge for falsely convicting and shipping him out of Blighty.
He discovers his wife has died and daughter is now the ward of the Judge so he returns to his old barber shop premises where Mrs Lovett recognises him and together they plan to get his daughter back and kill Turpin.

This culminates in a violent and bloody finale with very few survivors.

And when I say bloody, I mean bloody. There is no shortage of the claret being spilt from the unsuspecting victims slit throats (so many slit throats) and no CGi blood in sight!

Well, none that I could spot.
It just flows and sprays all over the place like it is a Peter Jackson film.

The bodies are disposed of by being used as the meat for Mrs Lovett’s pies in order to save her failing pie shop and reputation.

The main selling point of Sweeney Todd (for some) is not the blood but the musical element and here the songs are catchy, tell the story with a good and loud score backing them up but maybe a tad too loud.
I was watching on Amazon Prime and I don’t know if there is something about the way the way Amazon encodes its files but the vocals seemed too quiet compared to the music to the point they were drowned out.

It doesn’t help that the main cast aren’t strong singers overall. They can sing but for a musical you need big vocals so at times it seemed like I was listening to vocals from a demo track.

Still despite that they are good songs, maybe not memorable but they tell the story and fit the dark desaturated look of the film that helps show London as the ‘hole in the world like a great black pit‘ with ‘the vermin of the world inhabit it‘ as Sweeney sees it.

Overall an excellent film that I enjoyed and a good take on the Sweeney Todd character.

You’ll notice there is very little singing in this trailer. This apparently was deliberate which caused people to walk out of the Cinema when they discovered it was a musical.

Bonus Review

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1936)

“May I polish you off sir?”


Made in 1936 and starring the aptly named Tod Slaughter (Tod means Death in German but I’m sure that’s a coincidence) as the titular Sweeney who plays him in a slimy, creepy way, like someone that leans in too close that always has an insincere crocked smile on their face.
The sort that makes you feel violated just by starring at you with their constant eye contact.

Taking on his 8th orphan work boy in as many weeks he has his sights set on the Governors Daughter Johanna but being the creepy sort he is he knows he has no chance unless he can get her suitor out of the way and then he I don’t fancy his chances unless he can scheme up a plan.

Sweeney has a very tenuous secret working relationship with Mrs Lovatt that won’t take much to turn even more sour.

Invoking a nicely flipping chair that drops his victims to the cellar below where Mrs Lovett is ready to use their bodies for the filling in her pies.

Good performances which are what you expect to see from the time and sets that convey either the seedy docks to the more upper class dwellings and trappings for the Governor and Johanna set the right feeling for what the film wants though the sets used for the ship and Africa aren’t quite as effective.

Johanna dressing up in a 10 year olds boys clothes that somehow then perfectly fit her frame so she can pretend to be an orphan boy looking for work is also not as effective.
She looks like a pantomime principle boy.

At only just over an hour and with Tod and Stella Rho’s (Mrs Lovett) performances this is something that won’t take up much of your time if you decide to give it a go.

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